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Published  by  the  Author 



Copyright,  1922, 



MAV  -b  iij22 

To  the  Pioneers 

and  especially  to  the  honored  memory  of 



Pioneer  of  Inyo  and  pioneer  in  endeavor 
for  her  moral  as  well  as  material  growth 

This  volume  is  dedicated 


CALIFORNIA  has  furnished  probably  more 
themes  for  books  than  has  any  other  Ameri- 
can State.  The  easy-going  romantic  years  of 
Mexican  rule,  the  padres,  the  Argonauts,  the 
golden  era,  the  wonders  of  this  Empire  of  the 
West,  have  had  generous  attention  from  both  mas- 
ters and  amateurs  in  prose  and  poetry,  fact  and 
fiction.  The  flood  of  writing  hardly  diminishes, 
for  magazine  literature  and  still  more  books  add 
to  it  month  by  month.  Yet  few  of  the  writers  on 
California  subjects  look  outside  of  the  boundaries 
coined  by  a  phrase-making  politician,  ''from  Sis- 
kiyou to  San  Diego,  from  the  Sierras  to  the  sea." 
Even  such  historians  as  Bancroft  and  Hittell 
deemed  it  hardly  worth  their  while  to  inquire  into 
the  amials  of  the  borderlands,  though  the  wilds 
were  conquered  through  many  hardships  and 
wars  bloodier  than  some  on  which  volumes  have 
been  written. 

Those  who  ventured  into  the  unknown  regions 
seldom  thought  it  worth  while  to  set  down  for  the 
future  any  extended  record  of  their  trials  and 
achievements.  While  they  lived  history,  it  all 
came  to  them  as  part  of  the  day's  work.  Being 
more  familiar  with  implements  of  livelihood  and 
of  offense  and  defense  than  with  the  pen,  they 



wrote  little.  Before  a  succeeding  generation  fully 
appreciated  the  closing  scenes  of  a  drama  of  high 
interest,  most  of  the  actors  in  it  had  gone  on  the 
journey  pioneered  when  time  began.  Therefore 
much  has  been  lost. 

This  book's  purpose  is  to  preserve,  particu- 
larly, the  record  of  Inyo  county  earlier  than  1870, 
when  a  printed  record  began.  Gathering  data  for- 
some  such  purpose  began  more  than  twenty  years 
ago,  while  many  of  the  pioneers  still  lived.  It  was 
the  author's  good  fortune  to  know  personally 
every  early-day  Inyoite  then  in  the  county.  Each 
of  them  gladly  gave  his  help.  Personal  interviews 
when  possible,  and  correspondence  with  those  who 
had  moved  to  other  parts  of  the  country,  elicited 
their  recollections.  All  narratives  were  checked 
and  rechecked  with  each  other  and  with  other 
sources  of  information.  Public  records  were 
searched,  as  were  also  the  files  of  pioneer  news- 
papers in  different  libraries. 

One  of  the  most  valuable  sources  of  informa- 
tion was  an  extensive  manuscript  collection  in  the 
private  library  of  Henry  G.  Hanks,  in  San  Fran- 
cisco. Mr.  Hanks  was  an  assayer  in  San  Carlos 
and  Chrysopolis  mining  camps,  Owens  Valley,  in 
1863.  In  later  years  he  became  State  Mineralo- 
gist of  California.  He  was  a  man  of  education, 
and  when  age  caused  his  retirement  from  active 
labors  his  library  received  his  whole  attention. 
His  interest  in  Owens  Valley  continuing,  he  kept 
and  arranged  many  letters,  diaries  and  other 
writings  relating  to  this  county's  history.  When 
the  collection  was  examined  for  the  purpose  of 


this  compilation,  in  1902  or  1903,  it  had  become 
an  almost  complete  though  disconnected  history 
of  the  more  strenuous  pioneer  years  in  Inyo. 

Everyone  who  took  any  prominent  part  in  the 
Indian  war  has  passed  on.  The  Hanks  library 
was  burned  in  the  fire  of  1906.  As  those  sources 
of  information  are  thus  forever  lost,  there  is  some 
justification  in  believing  that  a  service  was  done 
in  getting  what  they  had  to  impart ;  and  also,  that 
these  chronicles,  having  that  advantage,  give  the 
only  fairly  complete  record  of  the  county's  begin- 
nings that  can  be  compiled. 

Much  of  this  material  has  been  published  in 
serial  form  in  the  Inyo  Register.  The  idea  of  put- 
ting it  into  book  form  had  been  virtually  aban- 
doned when  in  the  spring  of  1921  the  Federation 
of  Women's  Chibs  of  Inyo  County,  desirous  of 
having  the  re-^^  i-d  preserved  and  made  available, 
gave  the  publication  their  co-operation;  and  the 
Board  of  Supervisors  later  extended  support  that 
made  the  book  a  certainty. 

Material  has  been  procured  from  more  sources 
than  can  be  fully  noted  here.  A  general  list  of 
those  sources  follows: 

Personal  accounts  by  T.  F.  A.  Connelly,  Alney 
L.  McGee,  Barton  McGee,  S.  G.  Gregg,  J.  S. 
Broder,  A.  Van  Fleet,  Milo  Page,  Thomas  W.  Hill, 
John  L.  Bodle,  Thomas  E.  Jones,  Henry  G. 
Hanks,  T.  H.  Goodman,  and  others. 

Correspondence  with  L.  A.  Spitzer,  J.  A. 
Hubinger,  F.  W.  Fickert,  John  C.  Willett,  Gen. 
J.  H.  Soper,  Dr.  S.  G.  George,  William  B. 
Daugherty,  George  Otis  Smith   (Director  U.   S. 


Geological  Survey),  the  Smithsonian  Institution, 
Willard  D.  Johnson,  Dr.  A.  L.  Kroeber  (Curator 
Department  of  Ethnology,  University  of  Cali- 

Many  manuscripts  in  the  collection  of  Henry 
G.  Hanks. 

Articles  by  P.  A.  Chalfant,  Mrs.  J.  W.  Brier, 
C.  L.  Canfield,  J.  B.  Colton,  E.  C.  Atkinson,  W.  L. 
(Dad)  Moore,  and  others. 

Files  of  the  San  Francisco  Alta  California, 
San  Francisco  Bulletin,  San  Francisco  Call, 
Sacramento  Union,  Los  Angeles  News,  Los  An- 
geles Star,  in  some  instances  as  early  as  1852; 
also  of  the  Inyo  Independent,  Inyo  Eegister, 
Bakersfield  Echo,  and  other  papers  of  subsequent 
years  containing  narratives  of  pioneers. 

Addresses  by  Henry  G.  Hanks  in  San  Fran- 
cisco in  1864  and  by  James  E.  Parker  in  Lone 
Pine  July  4,  1876. 

Official  reports  of  Warren  Wasson  and  several 
other  Indian  agents;  field  notes  of  A.  W.  Von 
Schmidt's  survey  of  Owens  Valley;  journals  of 
the  California  Legislature;  records  of  the  Inde- 
pendence land  office  and  of  the  Inyo  county  gov- 
ernment; and  sundry  other  official  documents, 

''Death  Valley  in  '49,"  by  W.  L.  Manley; 
''Death  Valley,"  by  J.  R.  Spear;  "California 
Men  in  the  War  of  the  Eebellion,"  by  R.  H. 
Orton;  "History  of  Nevada,"  by  Thompson  & 
West;  histories  of  Kern,  Tulare  and  San  Ber- 
nardino counties ;  ' '  Official  Documents  of  the  38th 
Congress;"  "The  Panamint  Indians,"  a  govern- 
ment report  by  F.  V.  Coville;  Bancroft's  "Native 


Eaces;"  Fremont's  ''Memoirs;"  "Botany  of 
Death  Valley." 

And  many  more  not  here  set  down. 

As  the  reader  is  to  infer  from  a  preceding  sen- 
tence, the  aim  of  this  undertaking  has  been  to 
collect  Inyo  history  that  has  not  been  printed. 
The  principal  matters  since  1870  are  presented  by 
subjects,  rather  than  with  special  regard  to  their 
order  of  occurrence. 


Chapter    I 
SOME  GEOLOGICAL  FACTS— most  diversified 






Chapter   II 




Chapter   III 
NATIVE  CUSTOMS — primitive  tribes — bows  and 


Chapter   IV 

MEDICINE  MEN  AND  LEGENDS— not  a  popu- 





Chapter   V 

INYO — jedediah  smith  1825 — gold  found  at 
MONO  lake — ogden  1831 — captain  joe  walker 
1832 — CHILES  party  1842 — wagons  abandoned 


Chapter   VI 
DEATH   VALLEY    PARTY    OP    1849— a    trail 


Chapter   VII 
A     DECADE     OF     EXPLORATION— mormons 


— ^voN  Schmidt's  survey  1855-1856 — reserva- 


'  *  WAKOPEE ' ' — COSO   AND    TELESCOPE    MINES 70 

Chapter   VIII 
COMING  OF  THE  STOCKMEN— cattle  driven 

through  to  aurora — VANSICKLE  AND  VAN 
FIRST      BUILDINGS      ERECTED  —  PUTNAM  's  ^-  "  NO 




Chapter    IX 
BEGINNING     OF     INDIAN    WAR— cattlemen 





Chapter   X 



FIELD 106 

Chapter   XI 
WHITES  AGAIN  BEATEN— Indian  agent  was- 


Chapter   XII 

TEMPORARY  PEACE— Indians  in  full  posses- 
sion— MILITARY  expedition CAMP  INDEPEN- 
DENCE   established PEACE    ARRANGED — COSO 



Chapter   XIII 
FRESH    OUTBREAKS — war    medicine    made — 




Chapter   XIV 
CONTINUATION  OF   THE  WAR— settlers  on 


Chapter   XV 


MERRIAM'S    thrilling    ESCAPE 146 

Chapter   XVI 



A    FOURTH    OF    JULY    CELEBRATION    IN    1864 A 




Chapter   XVII 

MORE   INDIAN  TROUBLES— coso   county  au- 
thorized— political  convention — piuTES  start 





Chapter   XVIII 

OF  THE  MINE 192 

Chapter   XIX 

INYO    COUNTY   ESTABLISHED— mormon    ef- 





Chapter   XX 
TWO    AFFAIRS    OF    1871— convicts    escaping 

FROM       CARSON       HEAD       TOWARD       INYO THEIR 



2— Mar.  22. 


Chapter   XXI 
EL  TEMBLOR — the  great  earthquake  of  1872 — 


— PROF.  Whitney's  observations — rebuilding 



Chapter   XXII 
YEARS  OF  RAMPANT  CRIME— inyo  a  refuge 




Chapter    XXIII 
CERRO   GORDO — inyo's  greatest   producer   of 




Chapter   XXIV 

PANAMINT RICH  ORES  start  a  new  RUSH — SEN- 

Chapter   XXV 




MARBLE,    SODA,    SALT,    BORAX 266 

Chapter   XXVI 

FIRST    IN    THAT    REGION — OTHERS    IN     1860    AND 

1861 A      REFUGE      FOR      THE      LAWLESS "bEL- 



Chapter   XXVII 
TRANSPORTATION  —  railroad     talk     always 

WITH       US AN        early-day        SURVEY HIGH 




Chapter   XXVIII 




Chapter   XXIX 
FURTHER    WAYMARKS— FIRST    fair— district 





Chapter   XXX 

LOS  ANGELES  AQUEDUCT— reclamation  ser- 
vice    BEGINS     ON      OWENS     VALLEY      PROJECT 

Eaton's  purchases — aqueduct  scheme  re- 


Chapter   XXXI 

Chapter   XXXII 


APPENDIX  A — OFFICERS  of  inyo  county 33-1 

APPENDIX  B — inyo's  vote  at  general  elections. 333 
APPENDIX  C— altitudes  of  peaks 340 






No  other  equal  area  on  this  continent,  probably 
no  other  on  the  earth's  surface,  equals  Inyo 
county  in  diversified  topography;  for  while  Mt. 
Whitney,  elevation  14,501  feet,  highest  peak  of 
the  States,  stands  on  its  western  border,  Death 
Valley,  lowest  of  American  land  depressions,  427 
feet  below  sea  level,  is  also  within  its  boundaries. 
Nature  has  written  here,  in  bold  strokes,  studies 
more  fascinating  than  the  little  affairs  of  human- 
ity. It  is  worth  while  to  glance  briefly  at  what 
leading  American  geologists  have  deduced,  and 
what  they  say  of  the  making  of  this  county  of 
ours.  Because  we  are  doing  so,  and  giving  some 
attention  to  a  few  topics  not  strictly  historical, 
this  is  ''The  Story  of  Inyo"  rather  than  its  his- 
tory alone. 

An  English  geologist  once  declared  the  Ala- 
bama hills,  near  the  base  of  the  Sierras  in  south- 


Z  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

ern  Owens  Valley,  to  be  the  oldest  mountains  on 
the  continent.  This  has  been  so  often  accepted 
and  repeated  as  fact  that  it  should  be  set  right. 
George  Otis  Smith,  Director  of  the  Geological 
Survey,  pronounced  the  assertion  to  be  wholly 
erroneous.  He  declared  that  while  presumably 
some  Archaean  rocks  are  exposed  in  the  Alabama 
hills,  their  elevation  above  the  water  is  a  com- 
paratively recent  geologic  event. 

^'Eecent"  in  this  connection  is  a  vague  term, 
as  we  understand  time.  One  geologist  writes 
that  ' '  the  million  of  years  will  remain  the  time 
unit."  Scientists  guess  the  earth's  age  all  the 
way  from  20,000,000  to  90,000,000  years.  So  when 
the  elevation  of  the  Alabamas,  or  any  other  oc- 
currence, is  credited  to  the  "recent"  geologic  past 
it  means  a  period  of  unknown  remoteness.  One 
who  has  examined  this  region  says  its  successive 
events  cannot  be  guessed  even  by  ages. 

At  the  end  of  the  Paleozoic  period  of  world- 
building,  an  immense  inland  sea,  comparable  with 
the  Mediterranean  of  the  present,  covered  what 
we  know  as  the  Great  Basin.  Probably  while 
other  ranges  to  the  eastward  were  forming,  the 
Inyo  Range  and  White  Mountains  (now  usually 
considered  as  one  range)  arose,  with  a  division 
between  them,  east  of  where  Big  Pine  now  is. 
Westerly,  a  plain  sloped  to  the  Pacific.  A  later 
convulsion  of  nature  produced  the  Sierras;  and 
Mt.  Whitney's  site  and  surroundings,  previously 
a  region  of  gentle  slopes  and  lowlands,  were  ele- 
vated to  their  present  or  greater  heights.  Intense 
volcanic   activity  prevailed,   of  which   abundant 


evidences  appear  in  the  Whitney  country  as  well 
as  many  other  places  along  the  Sierras. 

The  inland  sea  rose  and  fell  many  times. 
Geologist  J.  E.  Spurr  traced,  in  the  Death  Valley 
region,  seven  different  changes  of  surface  and  pe- 
riods of  volcanic  action.  The  glacial  coating  came 
along,  and  to  this  at  least  one  investigator  defin- 
itely assigns  a  time  80,000  years  ago.  Eemnants 
of  the  ice  capping,  melted  in  the  valleys  and  fed 
by  streams  from  the  mountains,  formed  four  great 
lakes  between  the  Eockies  and  the  Sierra  Ne- 
vadas.  One  of  these  was  Lahontan,  remnants  of 
which  are  Walker  Lake  and  other  Nevada  waters. 
Another  filled  Death  Valley,  Owens  Valley  and 
the  Mojave  desert.  These  evaporated  in  the 
course  of  time,  leaving  beds  of  precipitated  salts 
in  the  deserts,  and  Owens  Lake  in  Owens  Valley. 

C.  D.  AValcott,  former  Director  of  the  Geolog- 
ical Survey,  gave  the  name  of  ''Waucobi"  to  the 
Owens  Valley  lake,  apparently  taking  this  title 
from  an  Indian  word  more  commonly  spelled 
''Waucoba."  Traces  of  this  lake  are  found  along 
the  White  Mountains.  Walcott  determined,  by 
the  character  of  fossils  and  shells  found  along  the 
mountain  side  up  to  an  altitude  of  3,000  feet 
above  the  valley's  floor,  that  it  was  fresh  water. 
He  dismissed  the  theory  that  the  lake  was  3,000 
feet  in  depth,  because  there  is  no  indication  of  any 
sufficient  southern  boundary.  He  believes,  as  do 
others  who  theorize  on  the  matter,  that  the  later 
rise  of  land  between  the  two  sections  now  com- 
bined in  the  White  Mountain  range  carried  the 
old  shore  up  with  it. 

4  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

Volcanic  action  in  the  region  is  characterized 
as  ''very  recent,"  which  in  this  case  may  mean 
not  a  great  many  centuries.  Two  periods  of  vol- 
canic activity  are  indicated.  The  later  of  these 
formed  crater  and  cinder  cones  along  the  west 
side  of  Owens  Valley,  from  Eed  Hill,  near  Bishop, 
to  the  lava  beds  of  the  middle  part  of  the  valley — 
possibly  at  or  not  far  from  the  time  when  the  mud 
flowed  forth  and  formed  the  mesa  north  of 
Bishop,  and  the  craters  northward  as  far  as  Mono 
Lake  Basin  were  active. 

Proof  that  the  layman  can  appreciate  that  vol- 
canic periods  came  at  widely  separated  intervals 
was  disclosed  in  artesian  borings  near  Big  Pine. 
Lava  was  encountered  at  more  than  100  feet 
depth,  under  alluvial  soil,  while  not  far  away 
the  products  of  comparatively  recent  eruptions 
strewed  the  present-day  surface.  Whoever  can 
figure  how  long  it  took  for  the  valley  to  be  filled 
that  hundred  feet  can  guess  the  least  time  that 
passed  between  those  two  outpourings  of  molten 

Evidences  are  that  the  mountains  originally 
towered  far  higher  above  the  valleys,  Owens  par- 
ticularly, than  at  present.  Whitney's  pinnacle 
was  higher  above  sea  level,  and  has  worn  and 
broken  away.  On  the  other  hand  the  valley  floor 
was  once  much  below  what  it  now  is.  Borings  to 
a  depth  of  more  than  1,000  feet,  south  of  Owens 
Lake,  penetrated  only  sedimentary  gravels  and 
soils.  At  the  lake,  deep  borings  cut  successive 
layers  of  gravel,  sand,  volcanic  ash,  and  gravel. 
Near  Big  Pine,  a  576-foot  well  encountered  only 


clay  and  fine  sand,  in  several  alternations.  It  is 
clear  that  the  valley  has  been  filling  for  untold 
ages.  Some  investigators  claim  nevertheless  that 
the  general  level,  at  some  remote  period,  was  some 
hundreds  of  feet  higher,  and  that  it  was  dropped 
by  a  great  earth-change. 

Willard  D.  Johnson,  who  spent  months  exam- 
ining geologic  details  of  Owens  Valley,  wrote  of 
it  thus: 

"Owens  Valley  had  a  lively  history  in  the  recent  geologic 
past.  The  mountain-making  forces  have  been  extraordinarily 
vigorous.  For  example,  the  broad  embayment  in  the  Inyo 
Range,  opposite  Big  Pine,  has  been  lifted  at  least  1800  feet, 
possibly  3000,  since  glacial  times.  The  Black  Canyon  region 
was  lifted  nearly  as  much.  This  great  deformation  was  local, 
dying  out  rapidly  from  Black  Canyon  northward,  and  south- 
ward from  Waucoba  canyon.  But  the  Bishop  lava  field,  which 
had  been  spread  only  a  little  earlier,  w'as  warped,  folded  and 
shattered  in  an  extraordinary  manner.  The  display  of  fault- 
ing effects  has  no  parallel  elsewhere  that  I  know  of. 

"In  voleanism,  cones  are  built  by  explosive  eruption  of 
molten  lava.  The  coarser  particles  fall  back  vertically,  to 
build  the  cone:  the  finer  particles  are  drifted  far  on  the  wind, 
to  fall  as  ash  deposits.  With  excess  of  water  and  less  heat, 
the  steam-expanded  lava  is  welled  out  and  spreads  as  'lava 
flows.'  Owens  Valley  has  record  of  voleanism  of  all  types. 
There  have  been  many  ash  showers;  in  the  Black  Canyon 
section  many  are  preserved  and  exposed,  one  of  which  is  five 
feet  thick.  There  have  been  many  cinder  cones.  Most  of 
these  have  been  in  large  part  washed  away,  but  several  re- 
main, and  some  miles  south  of  Big  Pine  one  stands  nearly 
perfect,  embraced  by  glacial  moraines,  in  evidence  of  post- 
glacial, or  'recent,'  voleanism.  Rude  cones  of  built-up  lava 
flows  are  numerous.  The  largest  is  the  black  mountain  im- 
mediately south  of  Big  Pine,  There  are  at  least  a  dozen 
others.     Flows  of  molten  lava  cover  large  areas." 

b  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

In  some  time  of  the  far  past,  Owens  Valley 
was  larger  than  at  present,  for  a  mighty  spread 
of  volcanic  matter  now  deeply  covers  its  northern 
end,  north  of  Owens  River.  A  mesa  of  many 
square  miles  is  full  of  such  evidence.  The  gorge 
of  Owens  River,  eroded  to  more  than  800  feet 
depth,  in  places,  below  the  general  level,  with  ver- 
tical cliff  walls  of  over  400  feet,  discloses  only  an 
unvarying  tufa  mass. 

Mr.  Johnson  wrote  of  the  river  gorge : 

"For  six  miles  it  has  a  remarkably  straight  coui-se.  Has 
the  river,  in  cutting  its  course,  followed  an  earthquake  crack  1 
There  is  some  reason  to  think  so.  This  long  section  is  not  only 
exceptionally  straight,  but  it  runs  at  a  considerable  angle 
across  the  general  slope  of  the  lava  plain  sui'faoe.  That  is, 
fill  the  canyon  and  turn  the  river  upon  its  sui-face  above  the 
Mono  power  intake  and  it  would  discharge  into  Round 
Valley.  Furthermore,  the  lava  plain  is  extensively  faulted, 
in  two  systems  of  breaks  approximately  parallel.  On  the 
other  hand,  none  of  the  recognizable  faults  parallel  this  long 
stretch  of  canyon.  There  are  old  river  courses  on  the  lava 
surface.  There  is  evidence,  finally,  that  the  river  took  the  long 
six-mile  course  following  a  tilting  of  pronounced  grade  in 
that  direction.  After  it  had  cut  down  enough  of  a  canyon  to 
hold  it,  another  tilt  toward  Round  Valley  occurred. 

"The  really  striking  physiographic  fact  of  this  region, 
however,  receives  no  comment.  It  is  Birehim  Canyon.  Rock 
Creek  cuts  a  deep  canyon  across  a  rismg  slope,  in  order  to 
become  a  tributaiy  to  Owens  River.  If  Birehim  Canyon  were 
filled,  Rock  Creek  would  pond  up,  only  a  few  feet  deep,  and 
pass  easily  around  the  south  end  of  the  lava-plain  slope. 
What  deflected  it  in  this  unnatural  way?  Early  heavy  gla- 
ciation,  which,  filling  Round  Valley  in  large  part,  crowded 
Rock  Creek  aside,  up-grade,  and  then  left  it  permanently 


Willis  T.  Lee,  of  the  United  States  Geological 
Survey,  remarks: 

"The  present  form  of  the  Owens  River  system  is  due 
largely  to  change  of  climate  in  recent  geologic  time.  Through- 
out a  part,  at  least,  of  Quaternary  time  Owens  River  flowed 
southward  through  Salt  Wells  Valley,  and  the  portion  of 
Owens  Valley  north  of  Bishop  probably  contained  a  flowing 
stream.  During  the  changes  toward  greater  aridity  of  climate 
which  took  place  later,  the  water  supply  was  cut  off  from  the 
upper  part  of  Owens  River  and  one  of  its  main  tributaries 
was  left  as  the  head  of  the  stream.  At  the  time  evaporation 
in  the  valley  equalled  or  exceeded  the  inflow,  that  part  of  the 
river  south  of  Owens  Lake  ceased  to  flow,  and  the  tributaries 
from  the  White  Mountains  became  diy  from  lack  of  sufficient 
rainfall,  if  indeed  they  had  been  permanent  sti'eams." 

Johnson  concluded  that  many  of  the  great 
natural  changes  here  mentioned  happened  but 
yesterday,  so  to  speak,  in  the  world's  making.  He 
believed  that  they  occurred 

"since  man  made  pictures  of  the  hairy  mammoth  and  other 
mammals  belonging  to  glacial  times  on  the  walls  of  caverns 
in  southeni  France.  Wliile,  say,  the  valley  of  the  Euphrates 
has  been  standing  still,  and  while  on  its  plains  of  silt  myriads 
of  human  beings  have  time  and  again  busied  themselves  in 
erecting  brick  temj^les  on  the  moulded  ruins  of  uncounted 
other  brick  temples,  Owens  Valley  has  been  in  the  making." 



Before  the  white  .man,  the  Piute ;  before  the 
Piute,  what  people,  and  for  what  duration  of 
time  I 

Geologist  Bailey  remarks  that 

"the  remains  of  spear  and  arrow  heads  of  obsidian,  and  the 
fossil  bones  of  mastodon,  horse  and  camel,  mingled  together, 
tell  the  story  that  elementaiy  man  lived  along  the  shores  of 
these  ancient  lakes." 

Dr.  A.  L.  Kroeber,  of  the  University  of  Cali- 
fornia, takes  direct  issue  with  this,  in  writing: 

"The  age  of  most  of  the  animal  remains  is  to  be  reckoned 
by  tens  of  thousands  of  years.  The  age  of  the  human  finds, 
whether  they  consist  of  skeletons  or  implements,  probably  does 
not  extend  beyond  hundreds  or  perhaps  tho^^sands  of  years. 
Such  at  least  is  the  consensus  of  opinion  regarding  all  prop- 
erly authenticated  human  discoveries  yet  made  on  this  conti- 
nent. In  Europe  and  Asia  the  histoiy  of  man  seems  to  go 
back  nearly  half  a  million  years,  but  he  seems  to  be  a  very 
late  comer  in  America." 

He  says  that  in  no  case  yet  investigated  has 
there  been  a  certainty  that  the  remains  of  animals 
and  indications  of  the  presence  of  human  beings 
were  actually  associated,  without  chance  of  their 


WHO    WERE    THE    FIRST    FAMHiIES?  9 

having  been  shifted  together  by  later  human  or 
natural  intent  or  accident.  The  scientific  tendency 
is  to  be 

"exceedingly  skeptical  in  advance  regarding  any  such  dis- 
coveiy.  The  opinion  of  Professor  Bailey  is  matched  by  even 
more  startling  reports  of  Professor  Whitney  and  Clarence 
King,  but  recent  examination  has  led  to  a  general  disbelief  in 
their  reports." 

That  a  varied  animal  population  roamed  the 
wilds  between  these  mountain  ranges  unguessable 
centuries  ago  is  certain.  Near  Owens  Lake,  bones 
of  some  unidentified  animal  were  brought  up  from 
110  feet  depth.  Near  Independence,  men  digging 
a  well  found,  underneath  a  cedar  log,  bones  of  an 
animal  of  the  horse  species.  Still  nearer  to  us  in 
point  of  time  was  a  mastodon,  the  bones  of  which 
were  uncovered  at  a  depth  of  only  twelve  feet, 
also  near  Independence — an  animal  estimated  by 
the  San  Francisco  Academy  of  Sciences  to  have 
measured  twenty-five  feet  in  length  and  fourteen 
in  height.  Near  Death  Valley,  in  eastern  Inyo,  a 
few  crumbling  bits  of  bone  and  a  few  teeth  were 
identified  as  the  remains  of  a  paleotherium,  an 
animal  of  remote  ages. 

Not  a  dependable  indication  of  man's  presence 
in  this  valley  in  prehistoric  times  appears  to  have 
been  found.  The  discovery,  a  few  feet  under- 
ground, of  arrowheads  of  flint  (not  obsidian),  and 
other  articles  not  associated  with  the  Piute  tribe 
has  been  reported — probably  indicating  nothing 
more  than  the  demise  of  a  wandering  warrior 
from  some  other  region. 

Discoveries  made  in  well  drilling  prove  that 

10  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

in  olden  times,  and  at  different  periods,  Owens 
Valley  was  more  or  less  wooded.  The  cedar  log 
which  apparently  crushed  the  life  from  the 
ancient  horse,  already  mentioned,  probably  top- 
pled over  untold  years  later  than  the  growth  of  a 
black  willow  of  which  fragments  were  brought  up 
from  281  feet  depth  near  Big  Pine;  and  many 
more  centuries  separated  it  from  the  life  of  a 
four-foot  log,  also  apparently  black  willow,  bored 
through  447  feet  underground  in  the  same  ar- 
tesian well.  In  this  well  fourteen  distinct  changes 
of  natural  conditions  were  indicated  by  as  many 
strata  of  soils.  In  the  clay  beds  there  penetrated, 
mass  after  mass  of  tules  was  found. 

A  hazy  Indian  tradition  reaches  back  to  a  time 
when  groves  and  meadows  abounded  in  these  val- 
leys, instead  of  the  familiar  sagebrush  and, 
further  eastward,  desert  and  desolation.  Fish  and 
game  were  plentiful,  say  the  story-tellers  of  the 
campfire  circle.  That  happy  period  came  to  an  end 
when  the  mountains  burned  and  lakes  dried  up. 
While  this  tallies  perfectly  with  scientific  conclu- 
sions, it  is  unbelievable  as  a  continuing  tradition. 
It  merely  does  credit  to  Indian  powers  of  observa- 
tion, deduction  and  imagination. 

Those  who  believe  that  there  once  occurred  a 
great  aboriginal  migration  through  Owens  Valley 
cite  the  fact  that  a  chain  of  petroglyphs,  or  rock 
markings,  extends  from  the  Columbia  river  south- 
ward, into  and  through  Inyo  County,  and  on  into 
Arizona.  Examination  weakens  this  evidence,  for 
pictured  rocks  are  found  all  over  the  arid  West. 
' '  The  pictures  are  not  the  work  of  any  one  roam- 

WHO    WERE    THE    FIRST    FAMHiIES?  11 

ing  people,"  says  one  authority,  ''they  have  been 
made  by  all  tribes,  everywhere,  at  all  times." 
While  markings  can  be  traced  northerly  and 
southerly,  so  can  they  be  traced  easterly,  and  in 
other  directions.  Those  of  one  limited  area  are 
so  unlike  those  found  in  another  as  to  make  it 
improbable  that  they  were  made  by  the  same 
people.  There  are  vague  resemblances,  but  only 
such  as  would  come  from  the  possibility  that  dif- 
ferent tribes,  all  lacking  artistic  conceptions, 
might  chance  to  draw  somewhat  similar  crude  and 
simple  designs. 

Such  rock  markings  are  found  in  many  places 
throughout  the  county,  as  well  as  to  the  north  and 
the  south.  The  largest  group  of  petroglyphs  in 
this  part  of  the  State  is  a  few  miles  north  of 
Bishop.  It  contains  very  little,  if  anything,  that 
appears  to  be  capable  of  interpretation.  The 
Chief  of  the  Bureau  of  Ethnology  of  the  Smith- 
sonian Institution  writes,  after  examining  photo- 
graphs of  the  collection : 

"There  is  little  likelihood  that  the  petroglyphs  can  be  in- 
terpreted by  anyone.  The  petroglyphs  of  the  Indians  north 
of  central  Mexico  were  not  drawn  in  accordance  with  a  recog- 
nized system  of  symbols,  but  to  a  large  extent  were  arbitrary 
and  were  controlled  more  or  less  by  the  personal  fancy  of 
the  maker  or  makers." 

In  the  group  mentioned  are  some  delineations 
of  deer,  human  and  animal  footprints,  sinuous 
lines  which  may  mean  snakes,  oval  drawings  with 
connecting  lines  possibly  representing  waters,  up- 
right lines  with  others  branching  as  trees  rarely 
do,  and  many-legged  bugs.    In  general,  however, 

12  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

the  designs  are  but  the  crudest  of  geometrical 
figures,  coils,  gridirons,  and  apparently  aimless 
chippings.  It  is  said  that  petroglyphs  found  in 
the  eastern  part  of  the  county  show  greater  ef- 
forts at  picturing  than  do  those  here  described, 
including  better  drawn  animal  figures. 

Present-day  Piutes  disclaim  any  knowledge  of 
the  meaning  of  the  petroglyphs  and  of  their  ori- 
gin, except  as  will  be  told  in  a  later  chapter  on 
their  legends.  Dr.  Kroeber,  already  quoted,  con- 
siders this  fact  immaterial,  remarking: 

"I  should  be  disposed  to  agree  with  your  eonelusion  that 
the  pietographs  are  comparatively  recent,  and  very  likely 
made  by  the  ancestors  of  the  present  Piutes,  The  ignorance 
of  the  present  generation  would  prove  veiy  little.  Since  the 
traditions  of  most  Indians  are  most  fragmentaiy,  knowledge 
of  that  kind  would  be  almost  certain  to  die  out  in  three  or 
four  hundred  years,  and  might  be  lost  in  a  century." 

The  markings  are  generally  found  in  soft  ma- 
terial such  as  tufa,  and  were  made  by  chippings. 
A  few  are  dim,  but  may  have  been  only  lightly 
cut.  Others  are  fully  a  quarter-inch  in  depth. 
The  bottoms  of  the  carvings  are  lighter  in  color 
than  the  surface  of  the  stone.  This  tends  to  prove 
their  recentness,  the  cuts  not  having  weathered 
for  long  periods.  Carvings  undoubtedly  made  by 
white  men  show  precisely  the  same  differences  in 
coloring,  and  the  investigator  who  takes  the 
trouble  to  do  some  rock-marking  on  his  own  ac- 
count will  find  that  the  surface  he  uncovers 
corresponds  in  shade  with  the  bottoms  of  the  un- 
known characters. 

Corroborative    evidence    that   the    work   was 

WHO    WERE    THE    FIRST    FAMH.IES?  13 

done  at  no  far-removed  period,  and  by  the  Piutes, 
is  offered  by  bits  of  slate  similarly  marked,  taken 
from  opened  Indian  graves  in  which  the  bpnes  are 
still  fairly  well  preserved. 

It  is  claimed  that  petroglyphs  are  found  at 
camping  places  where  there  are  or  were  springs 
or  streams,  and  on  natural  routes  of  travel.  There 
are  exceptions  to  this,  for  some  of  the  collections 
are  in  mountain  nooks.  The  collections  near 
Bishop  are  on  the  course  of  stream-beds  or  near 
ancient  springs. 

It  may  not  unreasonably  be  concluded  that  the 
pictured  rocks  offer  no  evidence  of  tribal  an- 
tiquity in  the  region,  and  that  they  have  no  value 
except  as  illustrating  the  some-time  diversion  of 
idle  individuals  of  a  primitive  people. 




The  Piutes  were  probably  the  overlords  of 
eastern  California  from  the  beginning  of  tribal 
existence  until  the  white  men  took  possession. 
Their  traditions  assert  that  they  were  at  all  times 
the  rightful  owners.  Wars  are  narrated,  Indians 
from  across  the  Sierras  being  the  traditional  in- 
vaders. One  of  the  legends  told  in  this  book  is 
based  on  such  an  invasion.  The  Owens  Valley 
Indians  appear  to  have  returned  such  visits,  for 
it  is  said  in  trans-Sierra  counties  that  they  con- 
quered and  held  as  their  own  the  territory  about 
the  upper  waters  of  the  San  Joaquin  and  Kings 
rivers.  They  are  classed  with  the  Monos — a  word 
said  by  some  to  mean  ''monkey"  and  by  Cali- 
fornia Blue  Book  asserted  to  mean  *' good-look- 
ing." A  pioneer  writer  says  the  Monos  called 
themselves  '*Nut-ha." 

Bancroft's  ''Native  Races"  assigns  the  west- 
em  part  of  the  Great  Basin  to  two  "great  na- 
tions": the  Shoshones  or  Snakes,  and  the  Utahs, 
both  classed  as  branches  of  the  Shoshonean  fam- 
ily,  and   related   to   the   Apaches.     The   Piutes 



(spelled  Piutes,  Pi  Utes,  Paiutes,  Paiuches,  Pah 
Utes,  according  to  the  fancy  of  the  person  writing 
of  them)  are  a  subtribe  of  the  Utahs.  Bancroft 
holds  that  the  Piutes  and  the  Pah  Utes  are  two 
different  tribes.  The  former,  split  into  many 
small  captaincies,  have  different  designations,  in- 
cluding the  Toy  (Tule)  Piutes  of  the  Pyramid, 
Nevada,  region;  the  Ocki  (Trout)  Piutes  on 
Walker  River;  the  Monos,  extending  across  the 
Sierras  into  Tuolumne  county ;  the  Cozaby  Piutes, 
*'cozaby"  being  the  Indian  name  of  a  small  worm 
found  in  immense  numbers  on  the  shores  of  Mono 
Lake  and  formerly,  if  not  now,  used  as  food. 

Eastern  Inyo  belonged  to  the  Panamints,  a 
subtribe  of  which  the  last  member  is  said  to  have 
died  some  years  ago.  When  they  were  visited  by 
a  government  representative  (F.  V.  Coville)  in 
1891  there  were  about  twenty-five  survivors.  The 
Indian  population  there,  however,  came  to  repre- 
sent many  tribes,  for  the  remote  and  nearly  inac- 
cessible desert  places  received  renegades,  red  as 
well  as  white,  from  all  directions  as  the  white 
man's  law  became  enforced. 

The  name  Olancha,  now  borne  by  a  locality 
near  Owens  Lake,  designated  a  tribe  living  west 
of  that  point  and  across  the  Sierra  summit. 
Whether  that  people  ever  laid  claim  to  territory 
on  this  slope  is  but  surmise. 

Other  neighbors  of  the  aboriginal  Owens  Val- 
leyans  were  the  Meewocs,  in  Fresno  and  the  west- 
ern Sierras;  Notonatos,  on  Kings  River;  Tula- 
renos,  in  Tulare ;  Kaweahs,  and  many  others.  Ban- 
croft gives  the  names  of  more  than  two  hundred 

16  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

different  tribes  in  California,  with  the  remark 
that  in  many  cases  the  same  people  took  different 
names,  after  chiefs  or  for  some  other  reason. 

Note  is  also  found  in  records  of  the  Francis- 
can monks,  in  Bancroft's  writings,  and  in  a  book 
written  by  a  French  priest  in  1860,  after  spending 
seven  years  in  the  West,  of  a  tribe  called  the 
Benemes,  inhabiting  southern  Inyo  and  the  Mo- 
jave  desert.  The  only  information  about  them  is 
given  by  the  French  writer,  Domenich:  "The 
only  prominent  trait  of  this  numerous  tribe  is  a 
character  of  great  effeminacy.  These  Indians  are 
very  kind  to  strangers. ' ' 

The  primitive  Piutes  were  not  materially  dif- 
ferent from  the  average  Indians  of  other  parts  of 
the  continent.  They  lacked  some  of  the  attain- 
ments of  tribes  of  the  eastern  seaboard;  on  the 
other  hand  they  were  higher  in  the  scale  than  the 
squalid  Diggers  of  western  California,  whom  they 
regarded  with  contempt.  They  were  not  warriors, 
in  individual  bravery.  Their  fighting  tactics 
were  similar  to  those  of  a  certain  free-lance  leader 
of  the  Civil  War  who  believed  in  "gittin'  thar 
fustest  with  the  most  men. ' '  Overwhelming  num- 
bers rather  than  military  skill  of  any  kind  seems 
to  have  been  the  chief  reliance  of  Indian  combat- 

Spears  were  known  among  them,  but  appear 
to  have  been  used  almost  exclusively  for  fishing. 
The  bow  and  arrow  formed  the  chief  reliance  for 
offense  and  defense.  The  Piute  bow  was  com- 
monly made  of  a  tough  wood,  backed  with  sinew 
from  deer  or  other  animals.  The  best  form  of  bow 


was  two  and  one-half  to  three  feet  long,  with  its 
ends  shaped  in  short  reverse  curves.  Some  bows 
were  simple  arcs,  four  or  five  feet  long.  Arrows 
were  made  of  a  species  of  cane,  of  the.  straight- 
growing  arrow  weed  when  found,  or  of  willow. 
Arrow  material  was  cut  before  it  fully  matured. 
Bends  in  it  were  straightened  by  bending  in  con- 
tact with  the  groove  in  a  stone  shaped  for  the 
purpose,  and  heated.  Numerous  examples  of  such 
stones  are  found  in  collections  of  Indian  relics. 
Obsidian  was  sometimes  used  for  arrow  heads; 
more  often  the  substance  employed  was  the  hard 
wood  of  the  sagebrush,  burned  or  scraped  to  a 
dull  point.  The  heads  and  the  two  or  three  spi- 
rally placed  feathers  for  guiding  the  shaft  were 
secured  to  it  by  threads  of  sinew. 

Writers  on  Indian  customs  have  told  how  ob- 
sidian heads  for  arrow  and  spear  are  shaped  by 
being  heated,  then  subjected  to  the  dropping  of 
cold  water  so  as  to  chip  away  the  stone.  Others 
may  have  followed  this  method;  the  Piute  plan 
was  different.  The  manufacturer  selected  a  chip 
of  obsidian  approximating  the  desired  shape  and 
size,  and  with  favorable  cleavage  lines.  This  frag- 
ment was  held  in  one  hand,  which  was  protected 
by  a  buckskin  covering;  then  a  sharp  bit  of  bone 
was  used  to  laboriously  pry  off  fragment  after 
fragment  of  obsidian  until  a  satisfactory  point 
was  shaped. 

As  the  food  problem  took  precedence  over  all 
others,  nearly  all  Piute  manufactures  related  to 
it.  The  bow  and  arrow,  occasionally  necessary 
for  fighting,  were  continually  used  in  hunting. 

18  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

Another  article  employed  in  the  chase  was  the 
rabbit  net.  A  milkweed  known  to  many  as  Indian 
hemp  yields  a  long  and  fairly  strong  fiber;  this 
was  beaten  and  stripped  from  the  dried  stalks  and 
twisted  into  cord,  with  which  long  nets  were  made. 
These  nets,  less  than  three  feet  in  height,  were 
stretched  across  favorite  runways  of  rabbits.  On 
the  occasion  of  a  drive,  the  animals  coming  to  the 
net  found  no  difficulty  in  putting  their  heads 
through  the  open  meshes,  but  could  neither  force 
their  bodies  through  nor,  because  of  their  long 
ears,  withdraw  from  the  entanglement,  and  be- 
came easy  captives. 

Antelope,  deer  and  mountain  sheep  were  some- 
times killed  by  large  hunting  parties  which 
stealthily  surrounded  the  game;  then  wherever 
the  hapless  animal  turned,  an  arrow  awaited  it 
until  a  lucky  shot  brought  it  down. 

There  were,  besides  tiny  minnows,  but  two 
native  species  of  fishes,  chubs  and  suckers.  Low- 
water  periods  were  the  favorite  times  for  their 
capture.  Dams  were  made  across  the  diminished 
stream,  sometimes  by  Indians  standing  in  line 
across  the  channel  to  briefly  serve  as  a  backing 
against  which  to  pile  sods,  l3rush  and  earth.  As 
the  channel  immediately  below  was  drained,  its 
fish  were  scooped  out.  The  trout  with  which  the 
waters  of  the  eastern  slope  of  the  Sierras  now 
teem  were  planted  by  the  white  men.  Quail  also 
were  unknown  on  the  primitive  bill  of  fare,  few 
or  none  having  existed  in  this  region  prior  to  the 
coming  of  the  whites. 

In   addition   to   such   foods   as   white  people 


would  find  acceptable,  the  Indian  menu  included 
nearly  everything  that  had  life,  including  some 
kinds  of  insects  and  of  worms.  A  large  caterpil- 
lar known  as  ''pe-ag-ge"  (to  spell  it  phoiletically) 
was  a  staple  harvest.  The  hills  between  Owens 
Valley  and  Mono  Lake  Basin  seem  to  be  the  spe- 
cial habitat  of  this  delicacy.  It  is  found  in  living 
pine  trees,  and  is  not  the  white  worm  common  in 
stumps.  When  gathered  it  was  dried  for  later 
consumption.  The  ''cozaby"  of  the  lake  shores, 
the  larvae  of  a  form  of  fly,  was  gathered  where 
the  waves  had  piled  it  in  windrows  at  the  water's 
edge,  and  similarly  dried. 

The  sloughs  yielded  a  species  of  mussel.  In 
the  early  years  of  white  occupation,  piles  of  such 
shells  were  often  seen  near  Indian  camps. 

Agriculture  was  an  art  unknown  to  the  abo- 
riginal inhabitants.  They  knew  that  to  flood  fav- 
orable tracts  of  ground  occasionally  would  in- 
crease their  yield  of  plants  and  grasses,  and  to 
that  extent  only  did  they  pay  attention  to  the  fer- 
tile soil.    A  visitor  in  1859  wrote : 

"Large  tracts  of  land  are  irrigated  by  the  natives  to  secure 
the  growth  of  grass  seeds  and  gTass  nuts — a  small  tuberous 
root  of  fine  taste  and  nutritious  qualities  which  grows  here  in 
great  abundance.  Their  ditches  for  irrigation  are  in  some 
cases  caiTied  for  miles,  displaying  as  much  accuracy  and  judg- 
ment as  if  laid  out  by  an  engineer,  and  this,  too,  without  the 
aid  of  a  single  agricultural  implement.  They  are  totally  ig- 
norant of  agriculture,  and  depend  entirely  on  the  natural 
resources  of  the  country  for  food  and  clothing." 

The  grass  nut  mentioned  in  the  quotation  is 
known  as  'Haboose."    In  appearance  it  resembles 

20  THE    STOKY    OF   INYO 

a  miniature  potato.  It  is  firm  and  solid,  pleasant 
to  the  taste,  and  by  no  means  to  be  despised  as  a 
food  article. 

The  pinon,  ''Pimis  monophylla,"  to  give  the 
tree  its  botanical  designation,  furnished  to  the 
natives  one  of  their  chief  food  staples.  The  pine 
nut  is  found  on  most  of  the  desert  mountains  of 
western  Nevada  and  eastern  California,  and  in  the 
eastern  Sierran  range  and  foothills.  Harvesting 
the  nuts,  in  early  autumn,  caused,  and  still  causes, 
an  extensive  Piute  migration  to  the  hills.  Wliole 
villages  sprang  up  in  the  pinon  forests  while  the 
crop  was  being  gathered.  The  season  comes  as 
the  seeds  mature,  but  before  the  cone  scales  have 
opened.  The  cones  are  beaten  from  the  trees,  and 
spread  in  the  sun  until  the  scales  become  dry  and 
crack  apart.  Artificial  heat  sometimes  expedites 
this  process.  The  seeds  are  then  shaken  out  or 
beaten  out  with  sticks.  The  nuts  were  formerly 
roasted  by  being  put  into  baskets  with  live  coals 
and  stirred  or  shaken  until  the  cooking  was  com- 
pleted; now  probably  less  primitive  means  are 
used.  If  properly  prepared,  the  nuts  remain  fresh 
and  edible  for  long  periods.  They  are  eaten  either 
in  the  roasted  condition,  or  ground  up  and  eaten 
as  a  dry  meal  or  made  into  soup. 

Many  other  plants  supplied  food,  either  in 
Owens  Valley  or  in  the  desert  valleys  to  the  east- 
ward, or  both,  according  to  where  they  might  be 
found.  Sand  grass,  a  plant  of  many  localities  of 
the  West,  was  one  of  these.  The  abundant  seeds 
were  gathered  in  baskets  by  beating  the  grass 
with  a  sort  of  paddle;  then  the  chatf  was  win- 


nowed  from  the  seeds.  A  large  round-headed 
cactus  known  as  ''devil's  pincushion,"  found  in 
some  rocky  situations,  yielded  seeds  specially 
valued  because  of  their  long  period  of  freshness 
after  being  gathered,  thus  serving  when  most 
other  supplies  had  failed.  Several  other  kinds 
of  seeds  were  gathered  and  used,  commonly  in  the 
form  of  mush. 

A  kind  of  prickly  pear  was  made  into  food. 
When,  in  early  summer,  the  flat,  fleshy  stems 
were  fully  distended  with  sap,  they  were  broken 
off  with  sticks  and  collected  in  baskets.  Each 
piece  was  rubbed  with  grass  to  remove  the 
prickles,  and  exposed  to  the  heat  of  the  sun.  When 
thoroughly  dry  they  kept  indefinitely,  and  were 
often  prepared  for  eating  by  boiling.  The  man- 
ner of  preparation  was  sometimes  varied.  In- 
stead of  being  dried,  the  pieces  were  piled  into  a 
thoroughly  heated  stone-lined  cavity,  which  was 
first  lined  with  grass.  A  layer  of  cactus  joints 
was  laid  in,  then  hot  stones,  then  cactus,  and  so 
on  until  the  pile  was  rounded.  The  whole  was 
covered  with  a  mat  of  vegetation  and  lastly  with 
moist  earth.  The  pile  was  allowed  to  steam  for 
ten  or  twelve  hours,  after  which  the  ''na-vo,"  as 
it  was  called,  was  ready  to  be  eaten,  or  to  be  dried 
and  kept  for  the  future.  The  dried  substance  is 
said  to  have  resembled  dried  peaches  in  texture 
and  appearance.  This  dish  was  more  especially 
in  favor  in  the  eastern  part  of  the  county,  where 
the  plant  is  more  common. 

Some  plants  of  the  form  botanically  known  as 
cruciferae,  having  large  juicy  leaves,  and  having 

22  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

a  cabbage-like  taste,  were  gathered  and  thrown 
into  boiling  water  for  a  few  minutes,  then  taken 
out,  washed  in  cold  water  and  squeezed.  This 
operation  was  repeated  several  times,  for  the  pur- 
pose of  removing  bitterness  and  eliminating  some 
substances  known  to  produce  effects  unpleasant 
to  the  eater.  Frank  Kennedy,  an  old-timer  in  the 
Panamint  region,  said  that  when  food  was  very 
scarce  almost  any  green  herbage  was  eaten  after 
a  similar  preparation. 

The  mesquite  furnished  for  the  desert  Indians 
a  food  not  available  in  Owens  Valley.  The  ripe 
pods  store  a  small  amount  of  sugary  nutritious 
matter.  The  same  Indians  made  use  of  the  un- 
developed buds  of  the  yucca.  In  gathering  this 
material,  the  leaves  around  the  bud  were  grasped 
by  the  hand  and  by  a  twist  and  sidewise  pull  it 
was  broken  off.  Though  as  the  buds  age  the  stems 
become  very  tough,  in  that  early  stage  they  are 
brittle  and  easily  broken  by  one  who  understands 
how.  In  preparing  this  food,  the  outer  leaves  and 
tips  are  discarded,  leaving  an  egg-shaped,  solid 
and  juicy  mass.  This  is  roasted,  and  eaten  either 
hot  or  cold. 

Indians  of  Inyo  had  no  such  trouble  about 
salt  supply  as  was  the  rule  among  eastern  aborig- 
ines, for  they  had  but  to  gather  all  they  wanted 
from  huge  natural  beds. 

Sugar  substitutes  were  secured  from  the  com- 
mon reed,  in  one  of  two  ways.  One  was  to  scrape 
from  the  stems  and  leaves  a  parasitic  covering, 
which  was  used  in  the  crude  form.  White  men  who 
saw  it  say  that  the  "sugar"  was  filled  with  small 


green  bugs,  a  detail  apparently  not  objectionable. 
Another  method  was  to  cut  the  plants,  when  fully 
grown,  and  dry  them  in  the  sun.  The  material 
was  pulverized  and  the  finer  portions  sifted  out, 
to  be  worked  into  a  gum-like  mass,  and  finished 
by  being  partially  roasted. 

Many  things  were  eaten  raw;  others  were 
dried.  The  methods  of  cooking  included  the 
simple  plan  of  holding  the  food  on  sticks  over  the 
fire;  roasting  by  mixing  it  with  live  coals  in 
wicker  baskets,  which  were  shaken;  boiling  in 
water-tight  baskets  into  which  hot  stones  were 

Domestic  utensils  were  made  of  wickerwork. 
They  were  in  various  forms,  according  to  pur- 
pose. Plates  and  sieves  were  from  nine  to  twelve 
inches  in  diameter,  slightly  saucer-shaped.  Water 
baskets  were  so  closely  woven  as  to  be  almost 
water-tight,  and  finished  off  with  a  coating  of 
pitch  or  other  substance ;  these  were  usually  urn- 
shaped,  with  a  narrow  neck  and  often  a  rounded 
or  conical  bottom.  The  pot  basket  was  the  squaw's 
most  useful  utensil.  It  was  bowl-shaped,  with 
curving  sides  and  a  flattened  bottom,  very  closely 
woven.  Before  white  men  provided  something 
better — it  is  to  be  understood  that  all  these  refer- 
ences to  modes  of  living  relate  to  the  early  period 
— the  pot  basket  served  as  a  container  in  which  to 
boil  food,  as  well  as  a  bowl  for  dry  substances.  On 
occasion,  it  served  the  owner  as  a  head  covering. 
Transportation  was  done  in  packbaskets,  up  to 
two  and  one-half  feet  high,  funnel  shaped,  and 
carried  on  the  back,  sometimes  by  being  grasped 

24  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

by  the  rim  but  more  often  by  means  of  a  'strap 
which  was  passed  across  the  bearer's  forehead. 
Winnowing  baskets,  used  for  separating  chaff 
from  seeds,  were  two  or  three  feet  long,  oval 
with  one  end  brought  to  a  point,  and  but  a  few 
inches  deep.  The  infant  Piute  was  cradled  in  a 
wickerwork  contrivance  with  a  Y-shaped  tree  fork 
as  a  base.  The  back  of  this  receptacle  was  flat; 
half  of  the  front  was  rounded,  diminishing  to  the 
pointed  base;  usually  a  curved  framework  pro- 
jected from  the  top  of  the  contrivance  to  keep  the 
sun  from  the  infant's  face.  Into  this  he  was 
lashed,  and  either  left  or  carried  on  the  mother's 
back  as  circumstances  required.  Other  articles, 
including  bird  cages,  were  likewise  made  of  wick- 

All  these  articles  were  made  by  the  squaws  at 
the  cost  of  much  time,  care,  and  often  skill.  Wil- 
low was  the  principal  material,  though  not  the 
invariable  one.  In  this  manufacture,  the  withes 
were  gathered  at  a  certain  stage  of  growth.  The 
bark  was  stripped  off,  and  protuberances  scraped 
down.  The  sticks  were  then  split  into  three  or 
more  strands,  unless  they  were  to  be  used  for 
large  and  coarse  baskets  or  the  withes  were  too 
small  to  justify  splitting.  Each  strand  was  shaped 
into  a  thin  pliant  strip,  which  was  stored  until 
wanted  and  soaked  in  water  before  using.  The 
thread-like  effect  in  some  weaving  is  secured 
by  the  use  of  a  fine  and  tough  grass. 

The  finer  baskets,  such  as  are  included  in  col- 
lections which  white  people  have  made,  were  or- 
namented in  various  ways.    Bark  was  sometimes 


left  on  for  this  purpose ;  sometimes  the  work  was 
stained,  and  on  occasion  feathers  of  selected  col- 
ors were  worked  in.  Colored  figuring,,  usually 
black  in  the  baskets  of  Owens  Valley  Indians,  was 
made  by  using  natural  growths  of  that  hue.  The 
Panamints  used  a  plant  known  as  devil  horns, 
having  a  black  fiber  several  inches  long.  Natives 
who  could  obtain  yucca  roots  sometimes  employed 
the  red  coloring  from  that  source. 

Clothing  was  a  minor  consideration,  during 
most  of  the  year.  No  attempt  was  made  to  manu- 
facture fabrics  of  any  kind.  Eabbit  skins  sewed 
together  served  as  robes  for  the  women,  and  pro- 
vided a  warm  covering.  Moccasins  were  made  of 
deer  skin,  put  together  in  the  simplest  manner.  The 
purpose  of  these  articles  was  for  comfort  only; 
other  reasons  hardly  figured.  Early  white  visitors 
to  this  region  found  the  natives  clad  in  little  more 
than  primitive  simplicity  and  bright  face  paints. 

A  form  of  glue,  for  fastening  sinew  backing 
on  bows,  was  made  by  boiling  the  hoofs  of  moun- 
tain sheep.  A  minute  parasite  found  on  certain 
plants  was  also  used  for  the  purpose;  the  para- 
sitic masses  were  scraped  off  in  the  fomi  of  gum, 
kneaded  and  worked,  and  applied  hot. 

Stone  pipes  have  been  found  in  some  Indian 
burial  grounds,  though  not  often  enough  to  in- 
dicate that  smoking  was  more  than  a  ceremonial 
custom.  A  plant  known  as  Indian  tobacco  was 

Not  a  single  instance  has  been  discovered  to 
indicate  that  the  Piutes  had  even  so  much  knowl- 
edge of  metallurgy  as  to  fashion  ornaments,  let 

26  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

alone  articles  of  use.    They  knew,  however,  where 
placer  gold  was  to  be  found. 

The  tribes  of  the  region  were  not  nomadic; 
the  general  locality  of  each  subdivision  appears  to 
have  been  fixed  with  considerable  definiteness.  In 
consequence,  their  habitations  were  built  with  fair 
permanence,  considering  their  limitations  of  skill. 
Sometimes  the  camp  consisted  of  nothing  more 
than  a  curved  windbreak  of  willow  sticks,  driven 
into  the  ground  and  fastened  by  horizontally 
woven  withes.  The  more  elaborate  structures  were 
conical  campoodies  of  tules  and  willows,  thick- 
walled  and  weatherproof  except  at  the  small  en- 
trance through  which  the  occupants  crouched 
their  way.  In  the  average  of  these,  a  person  of 
ordinary  height  might  stand  erect  in  the  central 
part.  On  occasion,  these  huts  became  sweat- 
houses  for  the  treatment  of  the  sick. 




OP      AGE — HOW      THE      INDIANS      HAVE      PROGRESSED 


The  medicine  man  was  an  institution  of  Piute- 
dom  as  of  probably  all  other  savage  tribes.  The 
distinction  was  not  what  might  be  termed  a  popu- 
lar honor.  Whether  the  selection  was  made  for 
some  hereditary  reason,  or  because  of  some  event 
at  his  birth  or  in  the  early  life  of  the  doctor,  his 
status  was  established  at  an  age  when  he  had  no 
chance  to  object.  It  does  not  appear  that  he  was 
expected  to  employ  his  skill  until  he  had  reached 
reasonably  mature  years,  but  his  status  was  set- 
tled, however  he  might  resent  it  when  he  came  to 
understand  the  part  cast  for  him  in  the  drama  of 
life.  And  resent  it  he  usually  did,  for  as  soon  as 
his  ministrations  had  sent  a  sufficient  number — 
generally  three — of  his  fellows  to  the  happy  hunt- 
ing grounds  his  own  violent  and  sudden  removal 
from  mundane  aifairs  would  come  as  a  matter  of 

Among  the  former  Piute  residents  of  Owens 
Valley,  during  the  early  years  of  white  occupa- 


28  THE    STOKY    OF   INYO 

tion,  was  one  Jim,  who  had  been  selected  by  fate 
for  a  doctor's  career.  In  consequence,  Jim  con- 
stantly carried  a  ' '  sixteen-shoot  gnn,"  prepared 
at  all  times  to  "heap  kill  um"  if  there  were  at- 
tempts either  to  force  him  to  practice  or  to  fasten 
on  him  the  results  of  some  other  person's  lack  of 
skill  in  exorcising  evil  spirits.  At  an  earlier  pe- 
riod, when  less  efficient  defense  was  available,  Jim 
probably  would  have  fled  to  other  parts. 

The  standard  of  medical  success,  if  not  skill, 
required  of  Piute  medicos  was  higher  than  among 
civilized  peoples ;  for  while  a  white  doctor  is  in  no 
danger  of  violence  whatever  his  (or  his  patient's) 
luck,  the  Piute  healer  did  well  to  arrange  his  af- 
fairs immediately  on  the  demise  of  his  third  pa- 
tient. He  was  marked  for  early  and  unceremo- 
nious removal,  by  whatever  means  might  be  con- 
venient for  the  kin  of  his  last  case.  Stones,  arrows, 
lassos,  in  daylight  or  darkness,  regardless  of  place 
or  anything  but  opportunity,  were  used  to  reduce 
the  number  of  medicine  men  in  active  service.  It 
was  approved  tribal  law. 

It  appears  that  the  three-death  rule  was  not 
always  the  standard.  The  doctor  might  some- 
times pay  the  penalty  for  a  bad  guess,  even  if  the 
patient  recovered.  If  when  called  he  predicted 
death,  but  the  patient  got  well,  it  was  marked  as 
a  failure  of  prophecy;  the  medicine  man  didn't 
know  his  business,  and  it  went  toward  his  undo- 
ing. If  the  patient's  death  was  predicted  and 
came  to  pass,  accuracy  of  prophecy  counted  for 
nothing;  he  had  to  answer  for  losing  the  case.  His 
best  chance  for  rounding  out  his  allotted  years  was 


in  being  fortunate  enough  to  have  no  professional 

His  family  was  in  no  happier  plight.  Relation- 
ship to  an  unsuccessful  medicine  man  gave  the  sis- 
ters and  cousins  and  aunts  and  other  female 
relatives  a  special  liability  to  powers  of  witch- 
craft, and  they  suffered  accordingly.  Many  cold- 
blooded murders  of  such  alleged  witches  are  said 
to  have  been  committed. 

Nearly  all  the  threatened  clashes  between  In- 
dians and  whites,  after  the  close  of  the  Indian 
war,  came  from  the  white  man's  inability  to  ap- 
preciate the  propriety  of  killing  off  unsuccessful 
medicine  men,  and  a  determination  to  stop  mur- 
ders of  that  character.  As  late  as  1886  there  were 
instances  of  the  killing  of  both  *' doctors"  and 
* 'witches."  But  even  then  the  younger  genera- 
tion of  Indians  rebelled  against  the  barbarous 
custom.  In  later  years,  the  sick  native  usually 
calls  for  a  white  physician.  The  Indian  doctor 
has  become  practically  non-existent,  and  it  has 
been  long  since  there  has  been  a  known  case  of 
one  being  slain.  And  yet  in  1916  barbaric  in- 
cantation was  used  to  treat  one  of  the  belles  of 
the  tribe,  for  some  illness,  until  in  the  last  ex- 
tremity a  physician  was  called,  unavailingly.  In 
another  case  as  recent,  a  girl's  sore  eyes  were 
treated  by  some  campfire  beldame  who  rubbed 
the  eyeballs  with  a  piece  of  stone  until  the  blood 
started,  in  order  to  release  the  evil  spirit  that 
caused  the  trouble.  In  spite  of  vast  improvement 
there  is  still  need  of  enlightenment  among  the 

30  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

The  chief  medical  process  included  dancing 
and  incantations  to  drive  away  the  demon  that 
possessed  the  sick  individual,  if  the  latter 's  com- 
plaint were  fever  or  some  trouble  of  which  the 
cause  was  not  obvious.  The  sweathouse  was  used 
for  some  complaints,  particularly  for  those  in 
which  a  rash  appeared  on  the  skin.  The  victim 
went  into  an  airtight  wickiup  with  suitable  acces- 
sories for  heating.  When  sufficiently  warmed  up, 
and  perspiring  freely  if  possible,  the  invalid  ran 
out  and  plunged  into  a  pool  or  stream  of  cold 
water.  As  this  system  was  used  for  a  wide  range 
of  ills,  the  consequences  in  many  cases  may  be 

A  few  infusions  were  known  and  used.  Pitch 
or  fir  balsam  served  to  cover  wounds.  A  white 
man  who  spoke  Piute  fluently  stated  that  a  method 
for  closing  open  wounds  was  to  sew  them  with  the 
heads  of  ants.  A  large  black  ant  found  in  the 
hills  was  used  for  the  purpose,  being  held  in  such 
position  that  it  grasped  the  lips  of  the  pushed- 
together  wound.  The  insect  was  then  pinched  in 
two,  leaving  its  head  to  serve  as  a  stitch.  This 
sounds  a  bit  fanciful,  but  was  given  as  a  fact. 

Ants  also  figure  in  a  rheumatism  cure  given 
by  an  Indian  to  a  white  friend:  "Make  um  sick 
man  sit  on  ant's  nest.  Bimeby  (by  and  by)  heap 
holler — purty  good.  Mebbe  so  git  well."  This 
scheme  has  a  parallel  in  the  white  argument  that 
stings  of  bees  help  to  cure  the  same  complaint; 
and  the  parallel  is  not  diminished  by  the  "mebbe 
so  git  well." 

Tribal   custom   disposed   of  aged   Indians   in 


heartless  fashion,  but  it  is  said  that  the  individuals 
in  question  were  at  least  sometimes  willing  parties 
to  the  arrangement.  The  one  who  had  become 
''old  and  only  in  the  way"  was  taken  to  some  lone 
spot  and  left  with  a  limited  supply  of  food  and 
water.  There  he  or  she  starved,  if  some  earlier 
termination  of  misery  did  not  give  release.  Ma- 
larango,  chief  of  the  Coso  Piutes,  had  attained  the 
ripe  age  of  (supposedly)  ninety  years  when  with 
many  bodily  troubles  he  supervised  preparations 
for  his  own  removal  in  this  way  in  1874.  Sup- 
plied with  a  small  stock  of  pine  nuts  with  which 
to  gradually '' taper  off "  on  a  lifelong  habit  of  eat- 
ing more  or  less  as  circumstances  had  happened 
to  control,  he  was  located  at  a  spring,  with  the 
expectation  of  going  into  his  last  sleep  in  three 

The  home  of  a  dead  person  was  burned,  to- 
gether with  at  least  a  part  of  his  personal  posses- 
sions. No  evidence  appears  that  goods  and 
chattels  of  any  consequence  were  buried  with  the 
body.  Numerous  Indian  graves  have  been  en- 
countered in  excavating,  and  in  one  instance  the 
gradual  removal  of  a  sand  hill  uncovered  a  rather 
extensive  burying  ground,  in  which  there  were 
found  only  bones  and  occasionally  a  bit  of  figured 

These  were  the  things  of  primitive  times.  The 
Owens  Valley  Indian  has  advanced  marvelously — 
more  so  than  the  white  man  did  in  ten  times  as 
many  years,  for  the  white  slowly  evolved  ad- 
vantages that  were  brought  ready-made  to  the 
Piute.    Civilized  clothing  appealed  to  the  Indian 

32  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

for  practical  reasons.  He  evoluted  from  unmoral 
conditions.  He  learned  how  to  secure  a  living 
from  the  ground,  and  became  skilled  in  lines 
within  his  comprehension.  He  grew  mentally. 
There  are  Piutes  who  in  education  excel  some 
of  the  white  men  beside  whom  they  work.  There 
are  some  who  have  taken  up  skilled  trades.  Ad- 
herents to  primitive  customs  are  found  only 
among  the  ancients  of  the  people ;  the  newer  gen- 
eration are  advancing  rapidly.  The  women  often 
dress  neatly,  and  among  them  are  found  numerous 
competent  housekeepers.  Descendants  of  the  na- 
tives who  fled  at  sight  of  the  first  wagon  own 
and  drive  their  own  automobiles.  While  the 
wattled  wickiup  has  not  become  extinct,  the  frame 
cabin  is  common  in  the  little  Piute  villages.  Sew- 
ing machine,  rugs  and  carpets  are  often  found 
inside,  and  perhaps  a  talking  machine  with  a  sur- 
prising selection  of  music.  For  all  the  crudeness 
of  the  hieroglyphics  on  pictured  rocks,  the  natives 
have  a  degree  of  artistic  ability.  A  wholly  un- 
taught girl  made  a  recognizable  portrait  of  a 
white  acquaintance,  while  others  of  Indian  blood 
have  acquired  such  skill  as  to  make  their  par- 
tially trained  abilities  a  source  of  revenue.  In- 
stead of  the  pot  basket  worn  as  a  hat,  one  is  more 
likely  to  see  the  feminine  Piute  head  adorned  with 
decorated  millinery  from  some  store.  No  longer 
is  the  camp  commissary  repulsive  in  its  selection 
of  viands,  though  the  pe-ag-ge  is  occasionally  still 
gathered.  White  men's  food  products  are  chosen 
with  such  fastidiousness,  sometimes,  that  the  In- 
dian buyer  insists  on  his  or  her  special  preference 


of  flour  or  whatever  other  commodity  may  be 

We  have  written  of  old-time  customs  as  much 
because  some  record  of  them  should  be  kept  as 
for  any  other  reason,  and  because  of  the  contrast 
with  present-day  conditions.  Basketry  is  becom- 
ing a  lost  art  among  the  Indian  women ;  and  other 
things,  often  less  commendable,  are  disappearing 
just  as  surely.  The  Piute  fills  an  important  place 
in  the  economic  and  industrial  life  of  Inyo  County. 
This  evolution  is  partly  the  result  of  association 
with  the  whites  and  recognition  of  the  superiority 
of  their  ways.  It  is  also  largely  due  to  the  ju- 
dicious labors  of  conscientious  agents  and  teach- 
ers who  have  been  placed  among  them  by  the 
national  government.  The  Indian  is  growing  into 
full,  intelligent  citizenship.  This  has  come  from 
judicious  leading  and  association.  It  is  a  gradual 
process,  and  yet  ''gradual"  seems  hardly  a  fitting 
term  to  denote  the  wonderful  advance  that  has 
been  made  in  every  item  of  the  Indian 's  life  since 
some  of  those  around  us  were  carried  on  their 
mothers'  backs.  The  outcome  can  best  be  left  to 
the  people  who  understand  the  situation,  and  who, 
with  full  sympathy  for  the  Indian's  future, 
willingly  further  his  interests.  It  is  not  a 
''problem"  to  be  dealt  with  at  long  range  by 
would-be  philanthropists  (if  philanthropy  be  their 
purpose)  whose  theories  merely  interfere  with 
Indian  welfare. 

Securing  information  about  the  Piutes,  from 
them,  is  no  easy  undertaking.  Most  of  them  are 
reluctant  about  telling  anything  of  their  tribal 

34  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

life,  and  to  learn  their  individual  Indian  nafiies, 
or  their  meaning,  is  perhaps  the  most  difficult  of 
all.  It  is  hard  to  explain  why  this  is  true.  To 
learn  the  legends  that  are,  or  were,  current  among 
them,  is  an  undertaking. 

Indian  history,  preserved  only  by  narration 
from  one  generation  to  the  next,  soon  becomes 
merged  with  tradition  and  legend.  With  no  such 
standard  of  reckoning  as  we  have,  their  stories 
of  the  past  are  generally  dated  "long  time  ago," 
yet  may  have  been  only  two  or  three  generations 
back.  Details  are  lost,  or  elaborated.  A  legendary 
migration  may  have  had  its  foundation  in  the 
movement  of  but  a  small  band.  A  flood  of  purely 
local  magnitude  may  become  all-enveloping,  in 
the  narrations  of  later  years.  In  addition  to  such 
embellishments  as  native  story-tellers  add  to  their 
tales,  by  the  time  white  writers  have  taken  their 
turn  at  rounding  out  the  stories  the  results  are 
usually  far  from  the  first  camp-fire  telling. 

It  is  particularly  noticeable  that  all  Indian 
legends  have  their  scenes  in  the  vicinity  of  the 
tribes  that  tell  them.  The  world  of  each  is  prac- 
tically limited  to  its  own  horizon. 

Occasionally  a  legend  is  secured  at  first-hand 
from  a  native  source.  Such  an  instance  is  the 
Piute  version  of  the  Creation,  as  told  by  an  Owens 
Valley  Indian  to  D.  L.  Maxwell,  formerly  of  the 
local  Indian  Service,  and  by  him  recorded  in  the 
following  language: 

"The  word  'Piute'  signifies  'people  who  come 
and  go  in  boats.'  These  people  originally  lived 
along    the    shores    of    Lake    Lahontan.    Their 


descendants  now  live  near  the  mountain  lakes  of 
eastern  California  and  Nevada. 

*' According  to  their  legends,  at  the  beginning 
the  world  was  all  water.  At  that  time  the  Great 
Wolf  God,  the  God  of  Creation,  with  the  assistance 
of  his  little  brother  or  son,  the  coyote,  planted  the 
rock  seeds  in  the  great  water,  and  from  them  the 
rocks  and  land  grew.  The  rock  plants  were  helped 
in  their  growth,  and  cared  for  while  growing,  by 
the  Pot-sa-gah-wahs.  The  Pot-sa-gah-wahs  were 
the  ministering  spirits  of  the  Wolf  God,  and  were 
supposed  to  have  the  form  and  physique  of  a 
beautiful  child  about  ten  years  old.  They  could 
walk  about  on  land,  but  lived  and  hid  themselves 
from  human  eyes  in  the  water,  where  their  move- 
ments were  rapid — almost  instantaneous." 

(Any  one  who  is  critical  of  this  legend  because 
of  the  introduction  of  human  beings  at  this  stage 
is  requested,  before  he  comments  on  the  Indian 
story,  to  inform  us  where  Cain  got  his  wife.) 

''When  the  earth  became  habitable,  the  first 
man  to  be  created  was  Hy-nan-nu.  His  mother 
was  a  winged  creature,  a  spirit  or  bird,  perhaps 
Hai-wai,  the  dove. 

"The  Piutes  were  created  from  the  rocks.  A 
particular  rock  which  is  far  up  on  one  of  the 
creeks  west  of  Owens  Valley,  and  having  a  re- 
semblance to  a  human  form,  w^as  the  mother  rock. 

''After  the  Piutes  had  become  numerous  in 
Owens  Valley,  Hy-nan-nu  came  from  the  south- 
east to  teach  them  better  modes  of  living.  He 
was  not  a  Piute,  but  came  from  some  other  tribe, 
and  remained  here  for  many  j^ears.    He  was  not 

36  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

only  their  Adam,  but  also  their  Moses,  writing 
laws  for  them  on  tables  of  stone.  They  believe 
the  picture  writings  on  the  rocks  of  this  valley 
are  the  work  of  his  hands.  They  were  at  one 
time  able  to  read  those  writings,  but  that  art  has 
long  been  lost.  They  have  legends  telling  what 
each  of  the  different  writings  signify. 

''Hy-nan-nu  was  also  their  Methuselah,  Enoch, 
Solomon  and  Samson.  They  have  legends  which 
tell  of  his  feats  of  strength  and  daring.  He  is 
to  them  more  than  that,  for  they  say  of  him  as 
was  said  of  the  humble  Galilean,  'He  went  about 
doing  good.' 

''Hy-nan-nu  taught  the  Piutes  to  be  happy; 
not  to  worry  or  be  concerned  about  this  world's 
goods.  He  would  sometimes  break  a  basket  in 
the  maker's  hands  or  dig  up  the  growing  taboose 
in  order  to  teach  them  that  work  was  not  of  so 
much  importance  as  a  happy  disposition.  So 
work  took  a  secondary  place  in  the  minds  of  the 
Piute  forefathers. 

'*He  was  one  day  walking  through  Long  Val- 
ley when  he  saw  several  Pot-sa-gah-wahs  who 
had  left  the  waters  of  Owens  River  and  were 
walking  on  the  side  of  the  mountain.  He  desired 
to  catch  them,  and  being  between  them  and  the 
river  he  chased  these  little  creatures  far  up  the 
mountain  and  was  about  to  take  them  when  the 
"Wolf  God  sent  water  up  into  the  mountains  to 
save  their  lives.  A  lake  was  created  for  their 
benefit;  they  plunged  into  it  and  were  safe. 

**The  lake  which  originated  on  that  memor- 
able occasion  is  now  rudely  called  Convict  Lake, 


instead  of  its  Piute  name  Wit-so-nali-pah,  which 
means  *  spring  up, '  or  perhaps  '  spring  up  to  save 

'  *  The  writing  on  a  rock  near  Eock  -Creek  in 
Eound  Valley  is  the  story  of  a  little  child  and 
how  it  was  taken  by  the  Pot-sa-gah-wahs  into  the 
spirit  world  and  became  a  Pot-sa-gah-wah.  Hy- 
nan-nu  taught  that  people  might  be  changed  at 
death  into  those  little  beings.  The  qualities  essen- 
tial to  winning  that  reward  are  strength  and 
bravery.  There  must  be  no  fears  for  the  future — 
and  here  the  idea  of  trust  and  faith  becomes  part 
of  their  religion. 

"  'That  in  even  savage  bosoms 

There  are  longings,  yearnings,  strivings, 

For  the  good  they  comprehend  not; 

That  the  feeble  hand  and  helpless, 

Groping  blindly  in  the  darkness, 

Touches  God's  right  hand  in  that  darkness 

And  is  lifted  up  and  strengthened.' 

"Hy-nan-nu,  while  teaching  in  Inyo  County, 
was  always  looking  for  his  mother,  whom  he  had 
never  seen  or  had  but  glimpsed.  Having  finished 
his  work  here,  and  being  sure  his  mother  was  not 
in  this  valley,  he  one  day  walked  up  Bishop  Creek 
and  passed  over  the  mountains,  to  renew  his  work 
with  the  people  he  might  find  there  and  to  con- 
tinue his  search  for  his  mother. 

''Thus  according  to  Piute  tradition  was 
created  the  earth  and  things  that  dwell  therein." 

It  is  not  without  interest  to  compare  this  with 
the  very  different  Creation  legend  of  the  Western 
Nevada  branches  of  the  same  tribe : 

38  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

**At  first  the  world  was  all  water  and  remained 
so  for  a  long  time.  Then  the  water  began  to  go 
down,  and  at  last  Kurangwa  (Mt.  Grant)  came 
from  the  water,  near  the  southwest  end  of  Walker 
Lake.  There  was  fire  on  its  top,  and  when  the 
wind  blew  hard  the  water  dashed  over  the  fire 
and  would  have  extinguished  it,  but  for  the  sage- 
hen  nestling  over  it  and  fanning  away  the  water 
with  its  wings.  The  heat  scorched  the  feathers 
on  the  sagehen's  breast,  and  they  remain  black  to 
this  day.  Afterwards  the  Piutes  got  their  first 
fire  from  the  mountain  through  the  help  of  the 
rabbit."  (Most  Indian  legends  credit  the  coyote 
with  having  preserved  fire.) 

"As  the  water  subsided  other  mountains  ap- 
peared, until  at  last  the  earth  was  left  as  it  now 
is.  Then  the  great  ancestor  of  the  Piutes  came 
from  the  south  past  Mt.  Grant,  upon  which  his 
foot-prints  can  still  be  seen,  and  made  his  home 
in  the  region  of  Carson  Sink.  A  woman  followed 
him;  they  met  and  she  became  his  wife.  They 
dressed  themselves  in  skins  and  lived  on  the  meat 
of  deer  and  mountain  sheep.  They  had  children, 
two  boys  and  two  girls.  The  father  made  bows 
and  arrows  for  the  boys,  and  the  mother  taught 
the  girls  how  to  dig  roots. 

"When  the  children  grew  up  each  boy  mar- 
ried a  sister,  but  the  new  families  quarreled  until 
the  father  commanded  them  to  separate.  One 
family  went  south  and  became  fish-eaters,  the 
Piutes  of  Walker  Lake,  and  the  others  went  north 
and  became  buffalo-eaters,  the  Bannocks.  After 
the  children  had  left  them  the  parents  went  into 
the  mountains  and  from  there  into  the  sky." 


Where  the  fish  and  pine  nuts  came  from  is  told 
in  another  legend:  A  mountain  rocked  violently, 
and  a  mighty  rift  appeared  in  its  side.  As  a 
dazzling  light  shone,  a  gigantic  Indian,  .dressed 
in  buckskin  and  decorated  with  beads  and  feath- 
ers, stepped  forth.  He  fired  an  arrow  at  the 
hillside,  and  on  the  slope  arose  many  trees  laden 
with  pine  nuts.  A  shaft  was  shot  into  the  water, 
and  the  stream  swarmed  with  fish.  He  pointed  to 
the  mountains,  and  the  awe-stricken  natives  fol- 
lowed his  direction  and  found  a  cave  floored  with 

Man  made  friends  with  some  of  the  animals 
in  this  wise:  A  dog  had  a  bear  at  bay.  While 
bruin  sat  on  his  haunches  waiting  for  an  op- 
portunity to  slap  the  dog  into  oblivion,  the  first 
man  sneaked  up  behind  the  bear  and  killed  it  with 
a  club.  The  man  skinned  the  bear  with  his  strong 
fingers,  and  as  he  ate  some  of  the  meat  he  threw 
portions  to  the  dog,  establishing  a  lasting  friend- 
ship. A  little  later  the  first  woman  appeared,  and 
while  she  was  eating  flesh  from  the  bear  a  cat  ap- 
peared. She  fed  it,  which  accounts  for  the  inti- 
macy between  women  and  cats  ever  since.  When 
the  dog  saw  the  woman  feeding  the  cat  he  became 
jealous  and  tried  to  chase  pussy  away.  The 
woman  protected  the  cat,  and  the  dog  and  the  cat 
have  always  been  enemies. 

The  best  known  legend  of  Owens  Valley  is  that 
of  Winnedumah.  It  is  connected  with  a  remark- 
able monolith  of  sandstone,  on  the  extreme  crest 
of  the  White  Mountains,  directly  east  of  Inde- 
pendence.    This  object,  commonly  known  as  the 

40  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

Piute  Monument,  is  eighty  feet  high,  and  f torn  its 
position  on  the  skyline  is  visible  for  many  miles. 
It  is — or  was — considered  an  enduring  monument 
of  faithfulness,  according  to  the  legend  of  which 
the  following  appears  to  be  a  more  accurate  nar- 
ration than  most  of  those  which  have  been  pub- 
lished : 

''Long,  long  ago"  the  great  medicine  man  of 
the  Piutes  was  Winnedumah,  brother  of  Tinne- 
maha,  war  chief  of  the  people.  The  principal 
tribal  stronghold  was  in  the  Black  Rocks,  a 
tumbled  volcanic  mass  which  is  strewn  over  mid- 
Owens  Valley  for  several  square  miles. 

One  day  hordes  of  Diggers  poured  through  the 
passes  of  the  Sierras,  Pahbatoya,  to  raid  the 
Piute  hunting  grounds.  The  owners  resented  this 
trespass,  and  a  battle  such  as  no  Piute  has  wit- 
nessed since  that  event  began  forthwith.  It  lasted 
through  days  of  the  fiercest  fighting.  At  last  the 
Piutes  were  beaten  and  forced  to  flee.  Many 
found  refuge  in  the  caves  and  recesses  of  the 
Black  Eocks — ^which  same  cavities  may  be  seen  to 
this  day  by  whoever  may  doubt  this  tale.  Others 
fled  across  the  rugged  mountains  to  the  eastward. 
Among  the  fugitives  was  Winnedumah,  whose 
medicine  had  been  useless  against  the  invaders. 
Sorely  pressed,  exhausted,  and  alone  he  gained 
the  summit,  where  he  stopped  for  a  final  view  of 
the  domain  which  he  deemed  lost,  and  to  await 
the  coming  of  his  warrior  brother.  But  Tinne- 
maha  had  fallen  in  the  fray,  and  while  Winnedu- 
mah invoked  the  aid  of  the  Great  Spirit  for  his 
stricken   people,    a   great   convulsion    of   nature 


came,  and  one  of  its  results  was  to  transform  him 
into  a  pillar  of  stone.  The  same  natural  mani- 
festation so  frightened  the  trespassing  Diggers 
that  they  forthwith  went  back  from  whence  they 
came,  never  again  to  dispute  the  ownership  of 
Owens  Valley.  There  to  this  day  stands  Win- 
nedumah,  faithful  to  the  end  of  time. 

A  tale  told  by  a  Mono  Indian,  and  known  also 
to  Owens  Valley  Indians  to  whom  it  was  men- 
tioned, is  of  a  winter  of  special  hardships  and 
trials  so  severe  that  it  virtually  wiped  out  the 
population.  ''Long  time  ago — my  grandfather 
say — him  grandfather — him  grandfather — him 
grandfather,"  and  so  on  for  many  generations, 
this  devastating  winter  happened.  Deep  snow 
came,  and  kept  coming  until  the  whole  region 
bordering  the  eastern  Sierras  was  under  a  blanket 
that  in  the  higher  valleys  did  not  melt  away  until 
midsummer.  All  animal  life  was  killed  off,  or 
sought  pleasanter  climes,  and  the  natives,  banded 
at  the  warm  springs,  were  without  food.  In  this 
extremity  the  aged  of  the  tribe  sought  their  own 
deaths,  that  the  younger  ones  might  thereby  be 
supplied  with  food.  It  was  a  long  time  after 
that,  the  narrator  said,  before  there  were  any 
number  of  Indians  along  the  Sierras,  for  the  sur- 
vivors went  away. 



padres  did  not  reach  inyo — jedediah  smith,  1825 — 

gold  found  at  mono  lake — ogden,  1831 captain 

joe   walker,   1832 — chiles   party,    1842 — wagons 

abandoned    at    owens    lake — resting    springs 

Fremont's  expeditions — naming  of  owens  river. 

The  Franciscan  missionaries,  who  played  so 
large  a  part  in  the  history  of  western  California, 
did  not  cross  or  even  reach  the  Sierra  Nevada 
Mountains.  According  to  Fr.  Zephyrin,  in  charge 
of  the  Santa  Barbara  Mission  and  its  historical 
records  when  this  chapter  is  written,  and  himself 
a  coast  authority  on  historical  matters,  Francisco 
Hermenegildo  Garces  journeyed  from  the  mission 
near  Tucson,  Arizona,  across  the  Mojave  desert 
in  1775,  and  came  in  contact  with  the  Beneme 
tribe  of  Indians,  whose  territory  extended  into 
southern  Inyo ;  he  passed  on  to  Tulare  County  by 
way  of  San  Fernando. 

Historian  Irving  B.  Eichman's  map  of  early 
California  routes  gives  that  of  Captain  Joe 
Walker,  1833,  as  the  first  through  Owens  Valley. 
Bancroft,  however,  notes  that  Jedediah  S.  Smith 
and  his  party  of  trappers  crossed  the  Sierras  at 
Walker's  Pass  in  1829  and  skirted  the  Sierras 
north  to  Mono  Lake.  McGroarty's  "California" 
also  mentions  Smith's  journey  over  the  "route 
mentioned.    Important  as  was  Bancroft's  work, 



most  of  his  delving  into  the  history  of  the  inter- 
mountain  country  was  done  by  proxy,  and  incom- 
pletely as  well.  We  are  justified  as  accepting 
as  more  dependable  an  account  based  on  Smith's 
own  notes  and  published  in  1881.  According  to  it, 
Smith  and  forty  companions  crossed  the  country 
from  the  Yellowstone  River  in  1825.  He  followed, 
in  Nevada,  what  he  called  the  Mary  River,  now 
known  as  the  Humboldt.  He  and  two  of  his  party 
came  south  by  Walker  Lake,  and  crossed  Walker's 
Pass  in  July  of  that  year,  the  rest  of  the  expedi- 
tion crossing  the  Sierras  farther  north.  In  Octo- 
ber Smith  came  back  over  the  same  route, 
traveling  closer  to  the  Sierras  on  the  way  north. 
He  discovered  Mono  Lake,  and  found  gold  there 
over  twenty-two  years  before  Marshall  picked  up 
at  Coloma  the  nugget  which  started  California's 
rush.  Two  men,  known  as  Rocky  Mountain  Jack 
and  Bill  Reed,  spent  the  summer  of  1860  at  Mono 
Diggings,  near  Mono  Lake.  Both  declared  that 
they  were  there  in  1825  with  Jedediah  Smith,  and 
that  the  party  spent  a  week  prospecting  during 
that  earlier  period.  In  a  volume  listing  the  names 
of  Smith's  party,  the  name  of  Reed  appears,  to- 
gether with  several  Johns,  one  of  whom  may  have 
been  identical  with  Rocky  Mountain  Jack. 

Peter  Ogden,  a  trapper  for  the  Hudson  Bay 
Company,  came  through  Nevada  in  1831,  and  is 
said  to  have  followed  the  route  previously  taken 
by  Smith. 

Then  came  Captain  Joe  AValker — Joseph  Rud- 
deford  Walker,  to  give  him  the  full  name  appear- 
ing   in    the    annals    of    the    Missouri    town    of 

44  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

Independence.  Walker's  home  was  there,  as  were 
those  of  Smith,  already  mentioned,  and  Chiles, 
who  was  to  lead  the  next  expedition  this  way.  It 
was  the  westernmost  frontier  settlement  and  the 
starting  point  of  the  sunset  trails.  In  1832  Walker 
left  there  as  a  lieutenant  of  Capt.  Bonneville,  in 
the  latter 's  company  of  110  picked  men,  with  ex- 
ploration of  the  country  around  and  beyond  Great 
Salt  Lake  as  their  purpose.  The  party  divided  at 
that  lake,  and  Walker  with  part  of  the  command 
kept  on  westward.  They  finally  reached  Mon- 
terey. Richman  marks  his  route  as  being  through 
Owens  Valley;  another  writer  claims  that  he 
skirted  the  eastern  base  of  the  White  Mountains 
and  crossed  Owens  Valley  southeast  of  Owens 
Lake.  As  his  later  guiding  was  unquestionably 
through  the  valley,  it  is  probable  that  the  earlier 
trip  followed  the  same  route. 

Joseph  B.  Chiles  organized  a  company  of 
about  fifty,  including  a  few  women  and  children, 
in  Independence,  Missouri,  in  1843,  and  started 
for  California.  Wagons  were  substituted  for 
pack  trains  in  this  expedition.  Walker  was  met 
at  Fort  Laramie,  Wyoming,  and  Chiles  employed 
him  to  guide  the  party  through.  On  reaching 
Fort  Hall,  the  two  men  decided  to  divide  the  party 
and  take  different  routes,  Walker  selecting  the  one 
through  Owens  Valley.  All  the  families  were  in 
his  branch.  He  led  them  over  his  old  course,  via 
Walker  Lake,  and  southward.  Infinite  hard- 
ships, says  one  of  their  writers,  attended  their 
journey  to  Owens  Valley.  They  traveled  down 
the  east  side  of  Owens  River  to  the  lake.    Their 


livestock  was  so  jaded  when  that  point  was 
reached  that  it  became  necessary  to  abandon  the 
cumbersome  wagons.  Some  sawmill  machinery 
had  been  brought  with  the  party,  and  this  too 
was  abandoned.  The  natives  were  terrorized  at 
sight  of  the  wagons,  and  fled  to  the  hills.  They 
made  trouble  but  once,  when  a  night  guard  named 
Milton  Little  was  wounded  with  an  arrow  fired 
in  the  darkness.  A  later  search  w^as  made  for  the 
wagons  and  machinery,  but  everything  had  been 
carried  away. 

After  abandoning  the  wagons,  portable  prop- 
erty was  loaded  on  the  animals  able  to  carry  it, 
and  the  company  proceeded  on  foot  to  ''the  point 
of  the  mountain,"  Owens  Peak  and  Walker's 
Pass — the  latter,  like  the  lake  and  river,  named 
for  the  leader  of  this  expedition.  Their  hard- 
ships increased  as  they  passed  through  the  moun- 
tains, past  the  later  site  of  Visalia  and  to  the 
Gilroy  rancho,  which  they  reached  in  January, 
1844.  One  of  the  families  in  this  party  was  that 
of  George  Yount,  whose  ranch  in  Napa  County 
became  the  site  of  Yountville. 

This  was  the  second  wagon  train  to  enter  Cali- 
fornia from  the  east,  though  its  vehicles  did  not 
cross  the  Sierras.  The  one  before  it  was  that  of 
John  Bidwell,  traveling  much  farther  north  in 
1841.  The  Chiles-Walker  expedition,  landing  in 
the  Mexican  settlements,  strengthened  the  Mexi- 
can authorities  in  their  fear  of  American  invasion 
across  the  plains. 

There  was  an  "old  Spanish  trail,"  of  which 
we  find  no  earlier  record,  however,  into  the  State 

46  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

from  the  eastward.  It  became  the  route  adopted 
by  Mormon  emigrants  to  San  Bernardino,  and  was 
used  until  after  the  Mountain  Meadows  massacre. 
A  branch  of  the  trail  reached  Resting  Springs,  in 
Inyo  County.  These  springs,  first  known  as  the 
Archilette,  were  given  the  name  they  still  bear 
from  the  use  made  of  them  by  Mormon  travelers 
who  tarried  there  to  recuperate  their  livestock 
on  journeys  across  the  waste. 

To  the  Archilette  came  John  C.  Fremont,  the 
Pathfinder,  on  April  19,  1844.  He  found  there  a 
lone  survivor  of  a  party  of  Mexicans  who  had 
been  attacked  by  Indians.  Fremont  rechristened 
the  springs  ''Agua  de  Hernandez,"  for  the 
rescued  man.  An  old  sword,  supposed  to  have 
been  lost  by  one  of  Fremont's  men,  was  found  in 
that  vicinity  more  than  forty  years  later.  Decay 
had  destroyed  its  handle,  and  the  blade  was  firmly 
nisted  into  the  sheath ;  the  weapon  was  of  the  pat- 
tern used  in  Fremont's  day. 

Once  more  the  name  of  Walker,  whom  some 
of  his  contemporaries  refer  to  as  one  of  the  best 
and  bravest  of  mountain  men,  appears  in  the  local 
record,  and  with  it,  that  of  Richard  Owens.  Fre- 
mont left  Bent's  Fort,  on  the  Oregon  trail  in 
Colorado,  in  the  late  summer  of  1845,  with  sixty 
men,  including  several  Delaware  Indians.  Some- 
where on  the  way  he  met  Walker  and  Owens  and 
added  them  to  the  party,  ''with  great  satisfac- 
tion," he  notes. 

As  Fremont  gave  the  name  of  Owens  to  the 
Inyo  County  river,  valley  and  lake,  it  is  of  interest 
to    note    the    tribute    paid    in    the    Pathfinder's 


Memoirs  to  that  adventurer's  capabilities  and 
value.  ' '  He  was  a  good  mountaineer,  good  hunter 
and  good  shot;  cool,  brave  and  of  good  judg- 
ment. ' '  He  was  an  officer  in  the  later  skirmishing 
in  southern  California.  When  Fremont  was  haled 
to  Washington  to  account  for  some  of  his  actions, 
Owens  went  as  one  of  his  principal  witnesses. 
Owens  did  not  see  the  river  or  valley  that  bear  his 
name.  Fremont  did  the  naming,  after  the  expedi- 
tion reached  the  San  Joaquin  Valley. 

The  whole  company  traveled  together  until 
Walker  Lake  was  reached,  November  23,  1845. 
The  Indians  found  there  were  not  friendly,  but 
made  no  hostile  demonstration.  A  party  of  Piutes 
was  met  as  Fremont  rode  near  the  lake,  the  two 
bands  of  men  passing  but  a  short  distance  apart. 
The  Indians  did  not  look  up,  and  gave  no  sign 
of  knowing  that  the  white  men  were  in  the  neigh- 
borhood. Fremont's  belief  was  that  his  party 
were  regarded  as  intruders,  or  else  that  the  na- 
tives had  received  some  recent  injury. 

Fremont,  Owens,  Kit  Carson  and  twelve  others 
went  north  to  cross  the  Sierras  along  the  Truckee, 
then  called  the  Salmon  Trout  Eiver.  Theodore 
Talbot  commanded  the  main  party  of  about  fifty, 
one  of  whom  was  Edward  M.  Kern,  artist  and 
topographer,  whose  name  was  given  to  our  neigh- 
boring county.  This  branch  stayed  at  Walker 
Lake  until  December  8th,  and  reached  ''the  head 
of  Owens  Eiver,"  (locality  not  definitely  stated) 
on  the  16th.  They  followed  the  river  to  the  lake, 
near  which  they  camped  from  the  19th  to  the  21st, 
then  going  on  southerly  and  through  Walker's 

48  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

For  many  years  a  mound  of  stones  some  three 
or  four  feet  high  stood  beside  the  road  a  short 
distance  north  of  Independence.  Popular  tradi- 
tion held  that  it  marked  the  burial  place  of  one 
of  the  Fremont-Talbot  expedition  who  died  in 
this  valley.  The  belief  is  doubtless  erroneous. 
Evidence  indicates  that  the  route  of  travel  was 
closer  to  the  river;  and  aside  from  this,  the  site 
of  the  cairn  was  on  very  stony  ground,  while 
ground  much  easier  to  dig  was  but  a  short  dis- 
tance away.  An  alternative  explanation  is  easier 
of  acceptance ;  that  the  monument  was  an  Indian 
boundary  mark,  on  a  line  between  the  Piute 
Monument  and  a  Sierra  pinnacle  which  soldiers 
ascended  in  1862,  but  which  stands  no  longer. 
Whatever  the  origin  of  the  mound,  it  has  been  de- 

DEATH   VALLEY   PARTY   OF    1849 



IN     UTAH — guide's     ADVICE     REJECTED — INTO     DEATH 



Next  in  Inyo  annals  comes  the  tragic  story  of 
the  pioneers  who,  seeking  a  short  route  to  Cali- 
fornia, marked  their  way  across  the  deserts  with 
abandoned  equipages,  lonely  graves  or  unburied 
corpses,  and  found  in  Death  Valley  the  culmina- 
tion of  their  miseries  and  misfortunes. 

A  writer  of  the  period  said  that  the  overland 
trail  could  be  traced  by  the  headboards  and 
mounds  above  the  bodies  of  its  victims.  Disease 
and  hardships,  the  arrows  of  hostile  Indians,  and 
sometimes  Mormondom's  ''destroying  angels," 
all  did  their  shares  toward  justifying  this  asser- 
tion. Hundreds,  who  set  forth  in  hope,  were  laid 
to  rest  by  the  wayside,  their  lonely  graves  more 
often  visited  by  pariah  coyotes  or  trampled  by  bi- 
son than  seen  by  human  beings.  The  full  tale  of 
those  journeyings  has  never  been  told.  Here  and 
there  some  special  tragedy  found  a  place  in  the 
blood-stained  history  of  pioneering.  None  exceed 
in  horror  the  truth  about  those  who  perished  at 
the  verge  of  the  promised  land,  the  Donner  party 


50  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

famishing  in  Sierra  snows  and  the  Death  Valley 
party  starving  in  the  desert. 

The  record  of  the  Death  Valley  party  is  found 
in  the  narratives  of  W.  L.  Manley,  Mrs.  Brier,  J. 
B.  Colton,  Edward  Coker  and  Thomas  Shannon, 
all  of  whom  were  of  the  party ;  of  P.  A.  Chalf ant, 
founder  of  the  Inyo  Independent  and  Inyo  Regis- 
ter, who  was  with  it  during  part  of  the  journey; 
and  of  others  having  more  or  less  information. 
There  is  not  always  agreement  between  the 
stories,  and  sometimes  a  rewriting  must  choose 
between  contradictory  statements. 

The  nucleus  of  the  expedition  was  a  band  of 
young  men  from  Galesburg,  Illinois,  who  organ- 
ized to  make  the  trip  to  the  newly  discovered  land 
of  gold.  They  were  youths  of  buoyant  spirits, 
and  anticipated  a  journey  of  pleasure  rather  than 
hardships.  The  name  of  "Jayhawkers"  was 
adopted,  for  some  reason  not  explained  by  any 
of  them.  An  impromptu  initiation  ceremony  was 
used  to  test  the  fortitude  of  applicants  for  the 
undertaking.  The  candidate  was  first  carried 
around  the  camp  on  the  shoulders  of  four  men.  He 
then  bared  one  leg  to  the  knee  and  stood  upright 
while  he  repeated  a  vow  that  he  would  stand  by 
his  comrades  through  all  perils.  Following  this 
a  small  bit  of  flesh  was  nipped  from  his  bare  leg; 
this  was  done  twice  more,  and  if  he  showed  a  lack 
of  fortitude  on  any  of  these  tests  he  was  deemed 
unworthy  of  membership.  Little  did  those  care- 
free young  fellows  dream  the  nature  of  the  hard- 
ships they  were  to  encounter.  A  few  of  them 
failed;  most  of  them  proved  their  worth. 

DEATH  VALLEY  PARTY  OF  1849         51 

Some  additions  to  the  train  had  been  made  by 
the  time  Salt  Lake  City  was  reached.  All  such 
travelers  remained  in  the  Mormon  capital  for 
some  time,  recruiting  their  livestock,  securing  sup- 
plies, and  otherwise  preparing  for  the  unknown 
journey  ahead.  The  Jayhawkers  reached  there 
in  July,  1849,  and  remained  until  toward  the  end 
of  September.  More  emigrants  joined  the  train 
in  Salt  Lake,  until  when  the  caravan  was  finally 
complete,  at  a  rendezvous  about  100  miles  south 
of  the  city,  it  comprised  107  wagons  and  about  500 
head  of  stock.  No  account  states  the  number  of 
persons.  The  original  Jayhawkers  numbered 
thirty-six.  In  the  expedition  as  finally  made  up 
there  were  several  times  as  many,  with  members 
from  Illinois,  Iowa,  Missouri,  and  nearly  all  the 
western  states  and  territories. 

One  of  the  subdivisions  amalgamated  into  the 
great  caravan  was  known  as  'Hhe  San  Francisco 
party,"  which  had  started  from  Omaha  with 
forty-five  wagons,  June  6th.  It  was  somewhat 
elaborately  organized,  with  constitution  and  by- 
laws, and  with  some  of  the  characteristics  of 
a  military  expedition.  John  Brophy  was  its 
"colonel,"  Judge  Haun  bore  the  title  of  ''major," 
and  Rev.  J.  W.  Brier  was  designated  as  ''chap- 
lain." One  of  its  younger  members  was  P.  A. 
Chalfant,  father  of  the  compiler  of  this  record. 

It  was  decided  to  divide  the  expedition  into 
seven  different  companies.  Some  of  the  units 
already  had  their  organizations;  the  small  com- 
panies and  detached  individuals  not  thus  included 
were  formed  into  new  commands.    The  Jayhawk- 

52  THE    STORY    OF   INYO 

ers,  after  long  argument,  decided  against  allow- 
ing any  women  or  children  in  their  division,  and 
the  families  which  had  joined  them  made  np  a 
separate  party.  To  this  there  was  one  exception. 
Rev.  Brier  preferring  the  Jayhawkers  to  the  party 
with  which  he  had  come  and  declaring  that  he 
and  his  wife  and  children  would  stay  with  the 
Illinois  men  in  any  case.  From  the  fact  that  the 
Brier  family  traveled  apart  from  the  Jayhawkers 
during  parts  of  the  subsequent  journey  it  is  prob- 
able that  his  welcome  in  their  camps  was  not 

All  went  well  until  a  point  about  250  miles  from 
Salt  Lake  was  reached.  Some  one  got  hold  of  a 
copy  of  one  of  Fremont's  maps  showing  the  route 
across  Walker's  Pass.  It  indicated  that  600  miles 
of  travel  would  be  saved  by  following  Fremont's 
course,  instead  of  going  farther  north.  Its  advo- 
cates also  cited  the  fate  of  the  Donner  party, 
caught  in  midwinter  in  the  Sierras.  It  would 
seem  that  this  last  argument  was  intended  for 
the  San  Francisco  party,  which  decided  on  the 
northernmost  route,  and  which  completed  its 
journey  by  entering  California  through  Beckwith 
(or  Beckwourth)  Pass  late  in  the  year,  mthout 
special  hardships. 

The  guide  for  the  whole  expedition  was  Jef- 
ferson Hunt,  a  Mormon  leader.  The  travelers 
had  been  urged,  in  Salt  Lake,  to  take  a  southerly 
route,  as  the  Mormons  were  anxious  to  have  a 
road  established  by  which  they  could  reach  cer- 
tain Spanish-grant  lands  in  southern  California. 
Hunt  was  to  conduct  them  to  Los  Angeles,  and 
to  receive  $12  per  wagon  as  pay. 

DEATH  VALLEY  PABTY  OF  1849         53 

When  the  order  was  made  excluding  families 
from  the  Jayhawker  train  two  of  the  men  who  left 
it  with  their  wives  and  children  were  Asabel  Ben- 
nett and  J.  B.  Arcane.  Manly,  who  has  left  the 
most  complete  record,  chose  to  go  with  Bennett, 
his  close  friend.  This  party  traveled  more  or  less 
independently  of  the  Jayhawkers,  though  taking 
the  same  general  course  and  experiencing  similar 
hardships.  While  the  two  bands  were  together  at 
different  times,  their  experiences  during  much  of 
the  journey  were  separate  stories. 

The  final  disintegration  of  the  big  caravan 
took  place  at  what  was  then  named  Poverty  Point, 
in  the  Wasatch  Mountains.  The  road  ended  in 
steep  precipices.  The  Jayhawkers  insisted  on 
finding  a  way  down  and  went  on  in  spite  of 
Hunt's  warnings,  taking  with  them  twenty-seven 
wagons,  including  those  of  Bennett  and  Arcane. 
As  already  noted,  the  San  Francisco  party  had 
previously  struck  out  independently.  Those  who, 
at  Poverty  Point,  accepted  Hunt's  advice  were  led 
south  and  safely  into  southern  California.  They 
have  no  further  place  in  this  story,  and  our  later 
narration  pertains  to  the  Jayhawkers  and  the  off- 
shoots that  took  the  same  general  course  as  they 

The  last  camping  place  in  Utah  was  beside  a 
playa  lake.  The  desert-wise  know  such  places — 
absolutely  flat  spreads  of  land  which  after  heavy, 
though  rare,  storms  are  covered  with  a  few  inches 
of  water.  When  they  dry  out  to  level  smoothness, 
seen  from  a  distance  they  resemble  calm  surfaces 
of  water.     Each  of  the   '49  parties  wasted  both 

54  THE    STORY    OF   INYO 

time  and  strength  in  vain  deviations  to  reach  such 
supposed  bodies  of  water. 

Manly  drove  no  team,  but  acted  as  a  general 
scout.  At  the  Utah  camp  he  ascended  the  highest 
near  point,  and  on  returning  to  camp  reported  a 
belief  that  there  was  no  water  ahead  for  a  hun- 
dred miles.  Doty,  the  Jayhawker  captain,  ad- 
mitted discouragement  at  this,  but  decided  to  go 
ahead  on  the  same  course.  The  next  morning  his 
men  and  their  twenty  wagons  pulled  out,  leaving 
Bennett,  Arcane,  Manly  and  associates  in  camp 
with  seven. 

Doty  traveled  five  days  without  finding  water, 
and  by  then  his  party  had  used  all  that  had  been 
brought  from  the  playa  lake.  A  subdivision 
headed  by  a  man  named  Martin  struck  out  on  a 
different  route  from  the  one  followed  by  Doty  the 
next  day.  The  latter 's  plight,  while  sorry  enough, 
was  less  desperate  than  it  was  to  become.  Toward 
morning  of  that  night's  camp,  the  sky  clouded  and 
a  little  snow  fell.  Enough  of  this  was  caught  and 
melted  to  satisfy  men  and  animals  and  to  provide 
a  little  reserve. 

No  more  water  was  found  until  the  Amargosa 
(meaning  bitter)  river  bed  was  reached.  That 
stream  is  on  rare  occasions  a  torrent  of  large 
volume,  but  for  part  of  its  course  is  usually  lost 
in  the  sands.  The  Doty  men  found  a  slight  trickle 
of  bitter  fluid,  and  drank  it  freely.  The  water, 
heavily  charged  with  minerals,  made  them  ill,  and 
they  left  the  stream  and  struck  out  toward  a  pass 
ahead.  They  were  near  the  eastern  base  of  the 
Funeral  range,  later  christened  for  one  of  the 
tragedies  of  this  expedition. 

DEATH  VALiLEY  PABTY  OF  1849         55 

All  the  courage  the  party  could  muster  was 
needed  in  reaching  the  summit.  The  way  grew 
steeper.  Debris  and  washouts  filled  the  canyons, 
through  which  probably  no  human  being,  except 
possibly  Indians,  had  ever  passed.  Men  and  oxen 
were  weakened  by  the  chemicals  taken  at  the  Am- 
argosa.  One  of  the  oxen  died  on  the  way  up,  and 
its  carcass  was  the  last  to  be  left  without  being 
utilized  for  food.  Even  that  one  was  not  wholly 
wasted,  for  a  straggler  of  the  expedition  cut  a 
steak  from  it.  After  two  days  of  struggle  the 
party  stood  on  the  summit  and  looked  down  into 
one  of  nature's  freaks — Death  Valley. 

The  train  toiled  down  the  pass,  and  on  the 
third  day  reached  some  springs  around  which 
some  coarse  grass  grew.  Realizing  that  the  oxen 
could  not  take  the  wagons  farther,  the  party 
camped  and  prepared  to  finish  the  journey  in  the 
lightest  possible  marching  order.  Wagons  were 
abandoned,  and  their  woodwork  was  used  to  feed 
the  fires  over  which  the  stringy  flesh  of  the  oxen 
was  dried.  Rice,  tea  and  coffee  were  measured 
out  by  the  spoonful,  with  an  understanding  that 
thereafter  each  individual  must  look  out  for  him- 
self and  expect  no  help  from  anyone  else.  The  can- 
vas of  the  wagon  covers  was  fashioned  into  knap- 
sacks, and  powder  cans  were  set  in  slings  to  serve 
as  canteens,  none  of  the  latter  having  been  in- 
cluded in  the  equipment.  Moccasins  were  made 
from  the  hides  of  slain  animals,  for  the  men  and 
for  the  tender-footed  among  the  surviving  oxen. 

The  Martin  party,  which  had  branched  off 
some  daj^s  before,  and  the  Bennett-Arcane  sub- 

56  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

division  both  came  into  camp  while  these  prepara- 
tions were  under  way. 

The  Briers,  traveling  by  themselves  despite 
the  father's  objections,  had  reached  Forty-Mile 
Canyon,  in  eastern  Nevada,  when  the  storm  oc- 
curred that  gave  Doty  water  enough  to  enable 
him  to  reach  the  Amargosa.  They  remained  there 
for  a  week  to  recuperate,  though  the  oxen  suffered 
much  from  cold.  On  leaving,  the  oxen  were  laden 
with  necessities  and  the  wagons  were  burned,  to- 
gether with  everything  that  was  not  considered 
necessary  for  traveling.  Mrs.  Brier,  writing  in 
later  years,  termed  this  action  a  fatal  step.  Some- 
where between  there  and  Death  Valley  the  Briers 
fell  in  with  the  Bennett-Manly  train.  On  the  way 
they  came  upon  a  number  of  small  squashes, 
cached  by  Indians,  and  took  them.  In  view  of  the 
scarcity  of  provender  among  the  Indians  of  that 
dreary  region,  it  is  not  surprising  that  the  na- 
tives sought  vengeance,  to  the  extent  of  a  night 
attack  on  the  camp.  Arrows  were  shot  into  three 

This  party  entered  Death  Valley  by  rounding 
the  southern  end  of  the  Funerals,  instead  of  toil- 
ing across  as  the  Jayhawkers  had.  Mrs.  Brier's 
account  tells  that  her  oldest  boy.  Kirk,  aged  nine 
years,  gave  out.  She  carried  him  on  her  back 
until  he  said  he  could  walk.  He  made  a  manful 
effort,  stumbling  along  for  a  while,  then  sank 
down  and  cried  that  he  could  go  no  farther.  His 
heroic  mother  would  then  pick  him  up  and  carry 
him  again.  Though  often  falling  to  her  knees 
from  weakness,  she  got  her  little  brood  safely 
into  the  Death  Valley  camp. 

DEATH  VALLEY  PABTY  OF  1849         57 

The  Martin  party  did  not  tarry.  They  were 
in  marching  order,  and  on  leaving  gave  all  their 
oxen  to  the  Bennett-Brier  camp,  saying  they 
could  progress  better  without  them.  Martin 
struck  out  straight  westward,  his  men  carrying 
on  their  backs  the  things  they  deemed  essential. 
While  they  were  crossing  one  of  the  ranges,  a 
man  named  Ischam,  who  had  left  the  Doty  party, 
as  will  be  hereafter  mentioned,  struggled  into 
their  camp  and  died  there.  They  crossed  to  the 
south  of  Saline  Valley  and  reached  Owens  Lake. 
Hostile  Indians  were  found  at  the  lake  and  some 
skirmishing  resulted,  without  harm  to  anyone. 
While  they  were  there  a  snow  fell  and  no  fire 
could  be  made.  Believing  the  lake  to  be  of  the 
playa  kind,  like  so  many  with  which  they  had  be- 
come familiar  on  the  desert,  they  were  about  to 
undertake  to  wade  it,  when  one  of  the  party  found 
the  old  trail  made  by  Walker's  last  party.  A 
friendly  Indian  advised  them  to  follow  it,  which 
they  did,  through  Walker's  Pass  to  safety. 

From  the  accounts  it  appears  clear  that  the 
Jayhawkers  under  Doty  struck  out  from  the 
Death  Valley  camp  without  encouraging  Bennett 
and  his  party  to  accompany  them.  Brier  again  re- 
fused to  accept  dismissal,  and  forced  himself  and 
family  in  with  them.  Two  days  later  Doty  re- 
joined Bennett,  and  the  two  subdivisions  were  to- 
gether at  some  camps,  apart  at  others.  The 
Jayhawkers'  departure  was,  therefore,  not  a  de- 
sertion but  a  following  out  of  the  plan  of  travel 
all  the  way. 

Dotv  believed  that  the  best  way  out  was  to  the 

58  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

northward.  On  the  way  he  found  good  water.  He 
turned  westerly  from  that  spring  and  climbed  the 
Panamint  range.  They  came  upon  the  body  of  an 
ox,  for  which  none  of  the  stories  account.  They 
cut  out  what  seemed  to  be  the  best  of  the  meat, 
but  after  making  a  supper  from  it  the  remainder 
was  thrown  away.  Darkness  came  on  before  they 
found  a  camping  place,  and  to  their  astonishment 
they  saw  a  fire  ahead.  They  found  at  it  a  traveler 
who  had  wandered  from  one  of  the  other  parties. 

They  expected  that  the  next  day  would  reveal 
the  valley  of  Los  Angeles,  west  of  the  range  they 
were  climbing.  Instead,  on  reaching  the  summit 
they  beheld  another  lake,  which  they  concluded  to 
be  another  saline  deposit.  This  was  probably  in 
Panamint  Valley.  The  party  divided,  and  each 
person  made  his  own  way  across  the  valley.  Some 
found  good  water;  others  found  a  supply  of  mes- 
quite  beans,  in  which  unfortunately  they  saw  no 
food  value.  On  the  west,  or  probably  southwest, 
side  the  party  reunited  and  toiled  up  a  canyon. 
Near  its  head  wet  ground  gave  hope  of  finding 
water,  but  digging  produced  no  results.  Here 
one  of  the  men,  named  Fish,  died,  and  his  body 
was  left  lying  upon  the  ground. 

A  gentle  grade  sloped  down  from  the  next 
summit.  A  large  lake  was  visible  far  to  the  left; 
from  the  descriptions  given,  this  was  probably 
Searles  borax  lake.  Half  way  down  the  slope 
Ischam  gave  out,  and  was  left.  A  little  farther  on 
one  of  the  scattered  men  found  a  small  spring  of 
good  water  and  called  the  others  to  it. 

Here  there  is  a  contradiction  in  the  accounts. 

DEATH  VALLEY  PAETY  OF  1849         59 

The  statement  has  been  made  that  Ischam  wan- 
dered into  the  Martin  camp,  and  died  there,  and 
that  this  was  at  a  point  from  which  "Owens  Lake 
was  reached.  Colton's  story  is  that  from  the 
spring  mentioned  in  the  last  paragraph,  certainly 
many  miles  south  of  Martin's  course,  a  detach- 
ment went  back  to  rescue  Ischam.  They  found 
him  alive,  but  with  his  tongue  and  throat  so  sw^ol- 
len  that  he  could  not  swallow  the  water  they  gave 
him.  While  the  rescuers  were  with  him,  says 
Colton,  he  died,  and  was  buried  in  a  shallow  grave 
in  the  sand.  Wherever  this  victim  of  the  desert 
breathed  his  last,  doubtless  more  than  one  of 
those  with  him  wondered  how  soon  his  owm  turn 
would  come  to  sink  to  rest  in  the  desert  and  see, 
with  scarcely  comprehending  eyes,  his  comrades 
pass  on  to  escape  a  like  fate. 

An  ox  was  killed  at  this  spring,  and  the  party 
was  refreshed  by  the  rest,  good  water  and  such 
poor  sustenance  as  the  carcass  afforded.  Pro- 
ceeding, the  party  came  upon  a  trail  at  a  point 
south  of  Walker's  Pass.  Mindful  of  the  Donner 
party's  fate  in  the  winter  of  1846-7,  Doty  feared 
to  undertake  to  cross  the  Sierras,  the  snow- 
crowned  summits  of  which  were  visible  ahead,  so 
he  turned  south.  At  another  spring  some  bunch 
grass  was  found,  and  the  emaciated  oxen  were 
given  a  day's  rest.  One  of  them  was  slaughtered. 
Such  were  the  straits  of  the  men  that  hardly  a 
part  of  the  animal  was  wasted.  The  blood  was 
saved  for  food.  The  intestines  were  cleansed  with 
the  fingers;  the  hair  was  singed  from  the  hide, 
and  all  was  roasted  and  eaten.    One  man  softened 

60  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

the  end  of  a  liorii  in  the  fire  and  gnawed  the 
softened  part.  Many  bones  of  cattle  were  seen 
along  the  trail,  evidence  that  others — possibly 
the  Mexicans  who  did  some  journeying  into  the 
desert — had  come  to  grief  in  the  same  region.  A 
man  wandered  from  this  camp,  and  was  supposed 
to  have  perished  until  he  was  found  in  an  Indian 
camp,  years  afterward. 

The  Brier  family  reached  this  camp  before 
Doty  left  it,  and  were  given  portions  of  the  slain 
ox.  While  Mrs.  Brier  was  preparing  a  piece  of 
liver  for  her  children,  a  famishing  Jayhawker 
took  it  from  them  while  her  attention  was  di- 
verted. Such  cases  were  few ;  the  ordeals  brought 
out  more  unselfishness  than  the  reverse. 

No  other  water  supply  was  found  for  four  or 
five  days,  while  the  worn  travelers  slowly  made 
their  way  over  the  seemingly  endless  desert.  The 
trail  grew  fainter  and  at  last  was  wholly  lost. 
Again  small  bands  branched  off  to  hunt  for  water. 
In  one  of  these  bands  was  Thomas  Shannon.  He 
started  a  jackrabbit  from  a  bush  and  shot  it. 
Drinking  its  blood  he  became  delirious  and  was 
so  found  by  a  comrade  who  had  come  on  a  supply 
of  water.  A  drink  of  water  improved  Shannon's 
condition,  and  the  men  made  a  meal  from  the  first 
wholesome  food  they  had  had  for  days.  All  the 
others  rallied  to  the  spot  except  a  man  named 
Robinson,  who  died  before  reaching  it  and  was 
left  in  his  blankets. 

Another  day's  journey  brought  them  to  snow, 
and  on  February  4,  1850,  they  reached  running 
streams  and  pleasant  surroundings.    Three  wild 

DEATH  VALLEY  PAKTY  OF  1849         61 

mustangs  were  killed,  supplying  a  hearty  meal. 
Going  on,  the  adventurers  came  to  where  many 
cattle  ranged.  Two  animals  soon  fell  before  their 
guns.  While  they  were  feasting,  two  Mexicans 
approached,  and  proved  friendly  enough  when 
they  found  that  the  marauders  were  not  Indians 
as  they  had  thought.  From  then  on  the  Doty 
party  members  were  cared  for,  and  scattered  to 
different  parts  of  the  State. 

Having  seen  the  Doty  party  to  safety,  we  re- 
turn to  note  the  misfortunes  of  Bennett,  Manly, 
Arcane  and  associates.  Manly  scouted  far  in  ad- 
vance, and  while  so  doing  he  came  on  the  carcass 
of  an  ox,  from  the  thigh  of  which  some  meat  had 
been  cut.  The  sun  had  dried  the  flesh  at  the  edge 
of  the  cut,  and  Manly  made  a  meal  of  this  raw 
dried  beef.  On  Christmas  Day  he  returned  to  the 
Brier  camp,  at  that  time  distant  from  Doty's.  He 
records  that  Brier  was  delivering  a  lecture  on 
education,  his  family  being  his  sole  audience — a 
strange  proceeding,  Manly  remarks,  considering 
that  the  sole  need  at  the  time  seemed  to  be  some- 
thing to  sustain  life. 

Brier  started  on  the  next  morning,  and  Manly 
found  some  scraps  of  bacon  that  had  been  thrown 
away  at  the  camp.  They  seemed  to  him  the  best 
morsels  he  had  ever  tasted.  Bennett's  wagons 
were  some  miles  back,  and  he  rejoined  them. 
Wild  geese  were  heard  overhead  at  night,  and  this 
was  interpreted  to  mean  that  Owens  Lake  could 
not  be  far  away.  The  next  day  he  walked  over 
the  salt-crusted  floor  of  Death  Valley,  and  at  dusk 
reached  the  campfire  of  the  Doty  party,  then  pre- 

62  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

paring  to  abandon  their  wagons.  Meantime  Ben- 
nett's gaunt  oxen  had  dragged  the  wa-gons  to 
Furnace  Creek,  to  which  he  returned.  The  next 
stopping  place  was  the  "last  camp,"  the  location 
of  which  was  much  debated  in  after  years. 
Manly 's  record  indicates  the  spot  as  follows: 
Camped  at  a  faint  stream  since  named  Furnace 
Creek ;  out  of  the  canyon  and  into  the  valley ;  due 
south,  distance  not  stated ;  across  to  the  west  side ; 
the  second  night  from  Furnace  Creek  at  a  spring 
of  good  water  coming  from  a  high  mountain 
which  he  says  is  now  called  Telescope  Peak,  This 
was  the  real  "last  camp."  The  party  journeyed 
eight  miles  farther,  reaching  a  sulphur  spring  on 
the  top  of  a  curious  mound,  from  which  return 
was  made  to  the  good  water. 

There  was,  however,  more  than  one  of  the 
"last  camps."  The  Jayhawkers  burned  their 
wagons  a  few  miles  from  Furnace  Creek,  at  a 
place  later  called  Lost  Wagons.  The  Bennett 
camp,  most  prominent  of  all  because  of  the  long 
stay  made  there  and  the  prolonged  hardships  of 
its  occupants,  was  undoubtedly  at  Bennett's 
Wells,  on  the  west  side  of  Death  Valley  sink,  and 
260  feet  below  sea  level.  The  water  is  brackish 
with  salt  and  sulphate  of  soda,  but  is  usable. 

Four  of  the  ox-team  drivers  concluded  to 
strike  out  for  themselves.  Two  of  these  were 
named  Helmer  and  Abbott.  It  is  probable  that 
one  of  these  was  the  individual  whom  the  Jay- 
hawkers picked  up  in  the  mountains.  Two  others 
later  came  into  the  Jayhawker  camps,  without 
having  fared  any  better  than  those  they  had  de- 

DEATH  VALLEY  PARTY  OF  1849         63 

After  Bennett  and  party  had  gone  back  from 
the  sulphur  spring  to  Last  Camp,  a  council  de- 
cided that  the  only  chance  of  getting  any  of  the 
expedition  through  alive  was  to  send  out  two  of 
the  strongest  men  as  a  forlorn  hope,  while  the 
main  party  remained  to  await  their  return.  W.  L. 
Manly  and  John  Rogers  were  selected  for  the  un- 
dertaking. An  ox  which  had  given  out  was  killed ; 
so  scanty  was  its  flesh  that  seven-eighths  of  all  of 
it  was  packed  into  the  knapsacks  of  the  two  men. 
Two  spoonfuls  of  rice  and  the  same  amount  of  tea 
was  added  to  their  stock,  and  after  a  parting 
which  might  prove  to  be  the  last  they  set  out. 

Those  remaining  in  camp  were  Bennett,  wife 
and  three  children;  Arcane,  wife  and  son;  Cap- 
tain Culverwell;  two  Earhart  brothers;  and  four 
other  grown  persons,  besides  a  Mr.  and  Mrs. 
Wade  and  their  three  children,  who  traveled  the 
same  course  as  the  others  but  kept  in  a  camp  of 
their  own.  The  Brier  family  were  traveling  in  a 
free-lance  fashion,  as  has  been  set  forth,  not  ac- 
ceptable to  the  Jayhawkers  and  not  choosing  to 
join  Bennett  and  Arcane. 

The  second  day  out  Manly  and  Rogers  found 
the  body  of  Fish  on  the  trail,  and  saw  the  holes 
the  Jayhawkers  had  dug  without  finding  water. 
Another  range  of  mountains  was  crossed  before 
Rogers  found  a  little  sheet  ice,  which  they  melted. 
The  next  night  they  overtook  Doty  and  his  men 
and  were  supplied  with  meat  and  water  to  relieve 
their  immediate  distress.  They  traveled  on  ahead, 
passing  the  advanced  members  of  the  Jayhawkers 
and  noting  the  skulls  of  horses  by  the  wayside. 

64  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

One  day  after  another  the  story  was  much  the 
same  until  they  reached  fresh  water  in  the  south- 
ern Sierras.  A  crow,  a  hawk  and  a  quail  were  the 
first  fresh  meat  they  obtained;  all  three  birds 
were  stewed  together.  On  the  last  day  of  Decem- 
ber, 1849,  or  the  first  day  of  January,  1850,  the 
men  emerged  from  a  barren  valley  into  a  meadow 
on  which  cattle  were  grazing.  A  rifle  shot  soon 
supplied  them  with  food.  A  traveler  named 
Springer,  on  his  way  to  the  mines  to  the  north, 
was  met,  and  gave  them  further  necessities. 
Reaching  a  ranch  near  San  Fernando  Mission 
they  obtained  two  horses,  small  sacks  of  beans, 
wheat,  coarse  flour,  and  some  dried  meat.  From 
another  stockman  they  bought  a  mule  and  a  horse, 
and  with  this  equipment  took  the  back  track  for 
Death  Valley.  The  three  horses  gave  out  one  af- 
ter another,  the  mule  being  the  only  animal  able 
to  stand  the  hardships  of  the  trip.  The  body  of 
Captain  Culverwell  was  found  as  they  neared 
Last  Camp. 

Seven  wagons  had  been  there  when  they  left; 
only  four  were  seen  as  the  anxious  envoys  looked 
from  afar.  The  canvas  covers  were  gone.  Had 
hostile  Indians  exterminated  the  unfortunates,  or 
had  they  taken  three  of  the  wagons  and  started  in 
some  other  direction?  Manly  and  Rogers  ap- 
proached within  a  hundred  yards  without  seeing  a 
sign  of  life;  then  Manly  fired  a  shot.  All  was 
quiet  for  a  few  minutes,  until  a  man  crawled  from 
under  a  wagon  and  looked  around.  His  shout, 
''The  boys  have  come!"  electrified  the  camp,  as 
well  may  be  imagined.  Bennett  and  Arcane  caught 

DEATH  VALLEY  PARTY  OF  1849         65 

the  returned  men  in  their  arms,  and  Mrs.  Bennett 
fell  upon  her  knees  and  clung  to  Manly.  Not  a 
word  was  spoken,  in  the  great  emotion  o-f  all,  until 
Mrs.  Bennett  exclaimed,  "I  know  you  have  found 
some  place,  for  you  have  a  mule."  It  was  some 
time  before  anyone  could  say  anything  without 
weeping.  It  had  been  twenty-six  days  since  the 
forlorn  hope  had  started  out.  All  but  the  Bennett 
and  Arcane  families  had  abandoned  the  camp. 
Culverwell  had  set  out  with  the  last  party  before 
Manly  and  Eogers  returned,  but  did  not  get  far. 

Wagons  were  abandoned,  and  the  little  proces- 
sion set  out  for  the  land  of  running  water  and 
wholesome  food.  The  children  were  slung  in  im- 
provised "aparejos,"  made  of  stout  shirts  sewn 
together  and  thrown  across  the  backs  of  oxen.  The 
extreme  emaciation  of  the  animals  did  not  prevent 
their  bucking  because  of  the  unusual  burden,  and 
another  camp  had  to  be  made  to  straighten  out 
the  tangle.  The  next  day  the  party  took  its  last 
view  of  the  dreary  surroundings,  someone  utter- 
ing: ''Good-bye,  Death  Valley!"  This  appears 
to  be  the  correct  story  of  its  naming. 

The  oxen  became  reconciled  to  their  loads,  and 
the  women  walked.  In  one  place  it  became  neces- 
sary to  lower  the  beasts  over  a  precipice  by  means 
of  their  crude  canvas  harness.  Day  by  day  the 
party  moved  along,  with  the  important  advantage 
over  former  experiences  that  they  now  had  a  bet- 
ter supply  of  food  and  some  idea  of  their  course. 
These  facts  did  not,  however,  keep  some  of  the 
weaker  members  from  giving  up  hope,  in  spite  of 
the  assurances  of  Manly  and  Eogers,  until  dis- 

66  THE    STORY    OF   INYO 

couragement  finally  ruled  almost  as  it  had  before. 
Men,  women  and  children  were  wasted,  almost 
barefoot,  and  in  tatters.  The  little  ones  cried  for 
water  that  was  not  to  be  had.  At  last  the  melan- 
choly procession  passed  through  Red  Eock  Can- 
yon and  to  a  joyous  resting  place  at  springs  not 
far  from  the  southern  end  of  that  strangely  sculp- 
tured defile.  Strengthened  and  heartened,  they 
pressed  on,  reaching  snow  in  the  Sierras  nineteen 
days  after  leaving  Death  Valley.  Toll  was  taken 
from  the  first  herd  of  cattle  found,  and  they  were 
soon  being  cared  for  by  the  generous  hospitality 
of  the  pioneer  settlers. 

This  is  a  concentration  of  the  most  reliable 
accounts  of  that  fearful  experience.  As  stated 
earlier,  there  are  contradictions  without  any  sure 
indication  of  the  true  version ;  there  are  tales  dif- 
fering considerably  from  and  doubtless  less  cor- 
rect than  this  narration.  Allowing  for  the  differ- 
ences mentioned,  it  is  the  story  of  the  participants 
themselves,  hence  to  be  accepted  beyond  any  of 
the  distortions  and  variations  which  have  crept 
into  print  at  one  time  or  another.  J.  B.  Colton, 
of  the  Jayhawkers,  wrote  that  four  of  his  party 
perished  in  the  Funeral  Mountains,  and  that  the 
range  got  its  name  from  that  fact.  All  other  ac- 
counts agree  that  his  detachment,  commanded  by 
Doty,  reached  the  Panamint  Range,  west  of  Death 
Valley,  before  any  of  its  members  died,  and  that 
the  death  of  Robinson,  one  of  the  four,  occurred 
not  far  from  the  base  of  the  Sierras.  Colton  stated 
that  a  dozen  stragglers  followed  the  expedition 
into   Death  Valley   and   that  all  perished  from 

DEATH  VALLEY  PAETY  OF  1849         67 

thirst  and  starvation;  and  that  another  train  of 
thirty  persons  lowered  their  wagons  into  Death 
Valley  by  means  of  ropes  and  that  all  but  two  or 
three  died  while  hunting  for  water.  Having  in 
mind  the  care  with  which  Manly  reviewed  all  de- 
tails, his  traveling  back  and  forth  between  the 
parties,  his  having  been  over  the  ground  after 
Colton  and  associates  had  gone  on,  and  the  fact 
that  he  makes  no  mention  of  these  occurrences, 
the  Colton  account  lacks  confirmation  and  seems 

While  the  foregoing  travel  details  tell  of  but 
three  of  the  seven  companies,  it  is  to  be  remem- 
bered that  (according  to  Manly)  the  rest  went 
southward  with  Hunt  and  reached  Los  Angeles 
safely.  There  may  have  been  individuals  who 
struck  out  independently  on  the  Jayhawkers '  trail 
and  fared  badly.  Some  names  are  mentioned 
more  or  less  casually  in  one  or  another  of  the  ac- 
counts without  statement  of  what  befell  them.  The 
Wade  family  is  mentioned  as  being  near  Last 
Camp,  without  information  as  to  what  became  of 
its  members;  likewise  a  Mr.  To^vne  and  family 
(hence  Towne's  Pass,  in  the  Funeral  Range)  were 
connected  with  the  expedition  in  some  way  not 

Different  accounts  say  that  eleven  men  left  the 
Jayhawkers  far  east  of  Death  Valley  and  that  all 
but  two  perished.  Manly  explicitly  states  that 
these  nine,  the  four  Jayhawkers  who  died  after 
leaving  Death  Valley,  and  Captain  Culverwell 
summed  up  the  death  list.  Whatever  others  may 
have  died  there  later,  the  evidence  is  that  Culver- 

68  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

well  was  the  only  one  who  died  in  Death"  Valley 

Every  account  of  the  expedition  pays  tribute 
to  Mrs.  Brier.  "She  was  a  better  man  than  her 
husband,"  wrote  one.  Manly  says:  ''All  agreed 
that  she  was  the  best  man  in  the  (Brier)  party. 
She  was  the  one  who  put  the  packs  on  the  oxen  in 
the  morning.  She  it  was  who  took  them  off  at 
night,  built  the  fires,  helped  the  children,  cooked 
the  food,  and  did  all  sorts  of  work  when  the  father 
of  the  family  was  too  tired,  which  was  almost  all 
the  time.  It  seemed  almost  impossible  that  one 
little  woman  could  do  so  much.  It  was  entirely 
due  to  her  untiring  devotion  that  her  husband  and 
children  lived." 

It  is  to  be  borne  in  mind  that  this  grim  tragedy 
occurred  in  midwinter,  at  the  most  favorable  time 
of  year  for  such  a  journey.  The  furnace-like  heat 
that  means  death  to  travelers  lost  in  that  inferno 
was  missing  at  that  season;  the  dangers  were  in 
lack  of  water  and  sustenance.  East  of  Death  Val- 
ley lie  hundreds  of  miles  of  desert,  and  every 
resource  of  the  Forty-Niners  was  dangerously 
reduced.  Had  the  expedition  been  undertaken  in 
midsummer,  probably  few  of  the  members  would 
have  survived  to  reach  Death  Valley,  and  none 
would  have  passed  that  formidable  barrier. 

Dr.  S.  G.  George  and  party,  visiting  Death 
Valley  in  1860,  found  unmistakable  traces  of  the 
Death  Valley  party.  Indians  had  drawn,  on  a 
smooth  clay  bed  near  one  of  the  camps,  a  record 
of  the  occurrence.  Men  and  women  were  shown, 
with  children  slung  in  bags  across  the  backs  of 

DEATH  VALLEY  PAKTY  OF  1849         69 

oxen,  in  single  file,  headed  in  the  direction  taken 
by  Bennett.  No  rain  had  destroyed  the  .drawings 
in  a  decade.  Numerous  relics  were  found  and 
given  to  different  collections.  Iron  work  of  wag- 
ons, chains,  cooking  utensils  and  other  articles 
were  picked  up  by  different  visitors,  many  of  the 
metal  objects  as  free  from  rust  as  on  the  day  they 
were  discarded.  Most  of  such  finds  went  to  the 
Society  of  California  Pioneers,  and  like  all  else  of 
interest  in  the  society's  museum  were  lost  in  the 
great  fire  of  1906. 

The  bones  of  animals  noted  by  Manly  and 
Doty  indicated  that  earlier  travelers  had  braved 
the  same  perils.  It  is  alleged  that  the  Mexicans 
traveled  the  wastes,  as  "the  old  Spanish  trail" 
goes  to  show,  and  probably  they  were  the  prin- 
cipal sufferers.  There  may  have  been  other  ven- 
turesome souls  who,  like  many  in  later  years  on 
those  deserts,  simply  dropped  from  human  ken. 

The  George  party  found  parts  of  skeletons 
near  one  of  the  springs.  In  one  place  a  woman's 
skeleton,  partly  covered  by  a  ragged  calico  gar- 
ment, was  found. 

The  Jayhawkers,  though  scattered  to  many 
different  localities,  held  occasional  reunions  for 
many  years.  The  last  of  these  was  at  Mrs.  Brier's 
home  at  Lodi,  California,  in  1911.  Five  of  the 
party  were  living  at  that  time,  and  three  of  them 
attended  the  reunion.  Mrs.  Brier  died  in  1913, 
at  the  age  of  99  years.  Manly  died  in  San  Jose  in 
1903,  aged  83. 



FOUND — VON  Schmidt's  survey  1855-1856 — reserva- 

Russ  district  first  civil  government — "wakopee" 
— coso  and  telescope  mines. 

After  the  Forty-Niners  had  walked  in  partner- 
ship with  tragedy  through  Death  Valley,  a  new 
period  of  Inyo  history  began.  To  call  it  a  decade 
of  exploration  seems  out  of  proportion,  since  we 
speak  of  but  a  single  county;  but  the  term  seems 
less  inappropriate  when  it  is  recalled  that  the 
county's  borders  inclose  over  ten  thousand  square 
miles  of  diversified  surface. 

The  Mormons  had  begun  an  effort  to  establish 
an  outpost  of  their  faith  at  San  Bernardino.  To 
reach  it,  a  route  was  laid  out  across  the  ** leagues 
of  cacti  and  sand  and  stars,"  through  southern 
Nevada,  entering  California  at  the  southeastern 
corner  of  the  Inyo  of  today.  Part  of  ''the  old 
Spanish  trail"  was  utilized  by  the  saints.  The 
springs  which  Fremont,  in  1844,  named  Agua  de 
Hernandez,  for  a  Mexican  found  there  after  his 
companions  had  been  killed  by  Indians,  were  not 
far  from  the  route  of  travel.  A  short  side  trip  to 
the  spot  afforded  a  place  where  grass  and  water 
helped  to  recuperate  stock  exhausted  by  the  long 
desert  journey.    It  was  renamed  Resting  Springs, 



and  still  bears  that  title.  Philander  Lee  was  to 
use  the  flow  from  the  springs,  years  later,  to  irri- 
gate a  200-acre  ranch;  at  that  time  the  water 
nourished  a  goodly  meadow. 

Mormon  emigrants  are  said  to  have  discov- 
ered, at  a  point  twenty-five  miles  south  of  the 
springs,  the  first  gold  mine  found  in  the  desert. 
This  was  in  1854.  They  named  the  rich  quartz 
ledge  the  Amargosa.  In  later  prospecting  they 
discovered  placer  ground,  and  worked  the  earth 
by  hauling  it  three  or  four  miles  in  wagons,  to 
some  salt  springs. 

Four  years  later  the  Mormons  found  silver 
ledges  in  the  Panamints,  and  built  a  small  furnace 
which  produced  some  bullion.  Its  location  was  at 
Anvil  Spring,  some  distance  south  of  the  later 
camp  of  Panamint.  The  prospectors  had  been 
sent  out  by  the  heads  of  the  church.  Furnace 
Creek  is  said  to  have  derived  its  name  from  a 
similar  enterprise. 

Occasional  adventurers  were  crossing  the  Si- 
erras from  the  west.  In  1853  Harry  Edwards,  an 
Indian  agent,  came  into  Owens  Valley,  if  credence 
be  placed  in  the  headlines  of  San  Francisco  pa- 
pers; the  printed  text  leaves  in  doubt  whether 
Edwards  actually  came  beyond  Walker's  Pass. 

The  first  official  attention  to  the  eastern  slope 
of  the  Sierras  appears  to  have  begun  with  a  con- 
tract dated  May  30,  1855,  between  John  C.  Hays 
— Col.  Jack  Hays  of  Texan  fame — ^who  was  then 
Surveyor  of  Public  Lands  of  California,  and 
A.  W.  Von  Schmidt.  The  latter  agreed  to  survey 
the  public  lands  east  of  the  Sierras  and  south  of 

72  THE    STOEY    OF   INYO 

Mono  Lake.  His  work  began  that  summer,  and 
under  a  supplemental  contract  was  continued  and 
completed  the  following  year.  The  survey  ex- 
tended from  the  Mount  Diablo  base  line,  a  few 
miles  south  of  Mono  Lake,  to  a  point  south  of 
Owens  Lake,  including  the  townships  mapped  as 
1  to  12  south  and  31  to  35  east.  The  party,  as 
enumerated  in  Von  Schmidt's  field  notes,  in- 
cluded, besides  himself,  R.  E.  K.  Whiting,  com- 
passman;  Joseph  Jefferson,  E.  Ross,  E.  Maginnis, 
J.  W.  Newton,  chainmen;  Henry  Gardenier  and 
E.  S.  Gersdorff,  axmen. 

Von  Schmidt's  field  notes  are  liberal  in  com- 
ments on  the  region ;  his  opinions  are  in  many  in- 
stances contradicted  by  the  facts  of  present 
knowledge.    Writing  of  Owens  Valley  he  said : 

"Land  entirely  worthless  with  few  exceptions.  The  only 
portion  of  any  value  is  near  the  banks  of  the  little  streams 
of  water  coming  from  the  Sierra  Nevada  mountains.  This 
valley  contains  about  1000  Indians  of  the  Mono  tribe,  and 
they  are  a  fine  looking  set  of  men.  They  live  prmcipally  on 
pine  nuts,  fish  and  hares,  which  are  very  plenty.  On  the 
western  edge  of  this  valley  I  found  great  quantities  of  grouse; 
other  game  very  scarce.  On  a  general  average  the  country 
forming  Owens  Valley  is  worthless  to  the  white  man,  both  in 
soil  and  climate." 

This  note  was  dated  July  15,  1855.  The  valley 
had,  of  course,  no  cultivation  at  that  time,  and  ex- 
cept for  natural  meadows  in  lowland  spots  and 
occasional  trees  on  the  streams  its  stretches,  gen- 
erally sagebrush  covered,  were  not  inviting  to  one 
fresh  from  the  springtime  aspect  of  the  grassy 
and  flowered  hills  of  western  California. 

Long  Valley,  with  its  miles  of  natural  meadow 


and  its  delightful  summer  climate,  impressed  Mm 
much  more  favorably.  '^  Splendid  land  for  any 
purpose,"  he  wrote;  "soil  first  rate;  fin'e  grass, 
any  quantity."  However  correct  his  estimate  of 
the  quality  of  that  land  may  have  been,  he  failed 
to  take  into  account  its  7,000  feet  elevation  and 
consequent  winter  severity. 

He  found  many  Indians  in  that  region.  Natural 
wonders  received  this  mention: 

"Fine  pine  timber  scattered  over  the  township.  There  are 
also  some  of  the  most  remarkable  boiling  springs  and  geysers 
that  I  have  ever  met  with  on  the  eastern  slope  of  the  Sierras. 
I  have  no  doubt  but  what  these  springs  will  be  of  great  value 
for  medicinal  purposes,  as  I  found  large  deposits  of  sulphur, 
iron,  soda  and  alum.  In  the  south  portion  there  is  consid- 
erable fine  grass,  but  its  principal  value  is  in  its  fine  pine 
timber  and  mineral  springs." 

Another  reference  to  the  springs  (those  of 
Casa  Diablo  and  Hot  Creek)  definitely  asserts 
that  they  must  have  some  connection  with  the  or- 
thodox infernal  regions. 

Von  Schmidt  found  in  Round  Valley 

"land  mostly  level.  Soil  in  general  will  average  second  rate, 
with  fine  grass,  and  also  well  watered,  with  but  little  pine 
timber  on  Indian  Creek.  I  found  many  Indians  in  this  frac- 
tional township,  who  live  in  deep  mountain  ravines  and  come 
down  here  for  grass  to  eat;  also  to  dig  roots  called  'sabouse' 
(taboose),  which  forms  their  principal  article  of  food." 

"Laid  off  today  to  fight  Indians,"  remarks  the 
surveyor  in  one  place.  There  was  little  trouble 
with  the  natives,  however,  and  as  a  rule  the  party 
conducted  its  observations  in  peace. 

Now  and  then  the  field  notes  record  that  a 
township  has  fine  streams  of  water,  or  that  it  is 

74  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

well  covered  with  grass.  With  scarce-  an  excep- 
tion, however,  the  soil  is  classed  as  second  or  third 

The  report  of  Thomas  J.  Henley,  Superinten- 
dent of  Indian  Affairs  in  California,  dated  San 
Francisco,  September  3,  1856,  includes  this  refer- 

"A.  W.  Von  Schmidt,  Deputy  United  States  Surveyor,  rela- 
tive to  the  Mono  Indians  living  on  the  east  side  of  the  Sierra 
Nevada,  in  Mariposa  and  Ttilare  counties  (the  present  Mono 
and  Inyo)  says:  'They  are  a  fine  looking  race,  straight  and 
of  good  height,  and  appear  to  be  active.  They  live  in  fami- 
lies scattered  through  the  entire  valley,  and  get  their  living  in 
various  ways,  such  as  it  is.  Game  is  very  scarce;  some  few 
antelope  are  to  be  found  in  the  valley,  but  the  bow  and  arrow 
is  not  the  proper  instinment  for  game  of  that  description, 
even  if  it  were  plenty.  Hares  ai'e  also  found  in  some  portions 
of  the  valley,  which  form  their  principal  article  of  food  in 
the  meat  line;  but  their  principal  article  of  food  consists  of 
clover  and  grass  seeds,  also  of  pine  nuts,  which  I  am  told 
fail  sometimes. 

"  'They  can  also  get  fish,  of  a  small  size,  in  Owens  River 
(the  lakes  lOwens  and  Mono  are  both  salt  and  have  no  fish). 
But  with  all  this  they  are  in  poor  condition.  The  families 
being  divided  off  and  each  having  his  own  hunting  ground 
causes  some  to  go  without  food  for  days.  ,One  chief  told  me 
that  sometimes  he  had  nothing  to  eat  for  six  days  at  a  time. 
I  estimated  the  number  to  be  about  1000  in  the  entire  valley. 
They  are  in  a  state  of  nudity,  with  the  exception  of  a  small 
cloth  about  their  loins,  and  so  far  as  I  can  see  are  in  want  of 
every  article  of  clothing.'  " 

Indian  Agent  J.  R.  Vineyard  reported  from 
Tejon  Agency,  California,  August  20,  1858,  as 
follows : 

"A  delegation  of  Indians  from  the  region  of  Owens  Lake, 
east  of  the  Sierra,  visited  the  reservation  a  short  time  since. 


The  people  of  that  region,  so  far  as  I  can  learn,  number  about 
1500.  The  delegation  asked  assistance  to  put  in  crops  next 
season,  also  someone  to  instruct  them  in  agriculture,  etc.  I 
would  respectfully  invite  your  attention  to  the  subject,  as 
they  seem  to  be  very  sincere  in  their  solicitations.  I  gave 
them  presents  of  clothing  and  useful  implements,  and  sent 
them  back  to  their  people,  with  the  promise  of  transmitting 
their  request  to  the  great  chief." 

The  Indian  population  of  Owens  Valley  was 
augmented  in  1859  by  fugitive  Indians  from  Tule 
River,  in  Tulare  County.  Deeds  of  violence  had 
been  going  on  in  that  region  for  several  years, 
culminating  in  a  campaign.  The  temporary  advan- 
tage of  the  first  fighting  between  the  natives  and 
settlers  who  sallied  forth  from  Visalia  was  with 
the  Indians.  Old  settlers,  whites,  asserted  in  later 
years  that  the  white  men  were  the  ones  at  fault; 
the  red  warriors  acted  in  a  manner  supporting 
this  claim,  for  in  their  cabin-burnings  and  other 
depredations  they  attacked  those  who  had  taken 
the  field  against  them.  The  war  of  a  sununer  ended 
when  soldiers  from  Fort  Miller  assisted  the  set- 
tlers in  inflicting  severe  punishment,  whether  well 
deserved  or  not,  on  the  marauding  reds.  This  has 
properly  a  place  in  this  history  only  because  it 
sent  into  this  county  numbers  of  Indians  with  a 
ready-made  and  burning  hatred  of  the  white  man 
and  prepared  to  take  part  in  keeping  him  out  of 
Owens  Valley.  It  appears  in  fact  that  the 
worst  elements  among  the  Owens  Valley  Indians 
throughout  the  Indian  war  were  renegades  from 
other  regions. 

The  events  mentioned  played  a  part  in  causing 
an  order  by  the  national  government,  in  February, 

76  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

1859,  suspending  from  settlement  township  13 
south,  range  35  east,  Mount  Diablo  base  and 
meridian,  this  area  extending  from  a  point  west 
of  Independence  to  the  eastern  foothills,  and  from 
about  three  miles  north  of  that  point  to  an  almost 
equal  distance  south.  The  order  of  suspension, 
which  stated  that  the  land  was  withdrawn  pending 
decision  as  to  making  it  the  location  of  an  Indian 
reservation,  was  not  revoked  until  1864.  As  will 
be  further  disclosed,  the  idea  of  making  Owens 
Valley  an  Indian  reservation  persisted  in  official 
circles  almost  up  to  the  time  of  the  revocation 
mentioned.  It  was  the  purpose  of  several  agents, 
and  of  a  bill  introduced  by  Senator  Latham  in 

During  the  summer  of  1858  a  Tulare  man 
named  J.  H.  Johnson  and  five  comrades  were 
piloted  across  Kearsarge  Pass,  west  of  Indepen- 
dence, by  a  Digger  Indian  named  Sampson — the 
latter  a  chief  whose  name  was  given  to  Sampson's 
Flats,  where  many  years  later  Bandits  Sontag 
and  Evans  held  the  center  of  the  stage  very 
briefly.  When  Johnson  and  his  party  reached 
this  slope  the  Piutes  were  found  to  be  hostile,  and 
two  Indians  were  killed  in  a  skirmish.  Their  arms 
were  bows  and  arrows  and  clubs. 

After  the  secularization  of  the  California  mis- 
sions, many  of  the  neophytes  became  renegades 
and  joined  the  Indians  of  the  southern  Sierras  on 
the  western  slope.  They  raided  the  scattered 
ranchos,  driving  away  horses  for  food  purposes, 
until  the  designation  of  Horsethief  Indians  was 
generally  used  as  their  tribal  name.  Owens  Valley, 


known  but  vaguely,  was  supposed  to  be  one  of 
their  strongholds.  In  July,  1859,  a  military  ex- 
pedition was  organized  at  Fort  Tejon  to  'explore 
the  valley,  investigate  the  character  of  its  inhabi- 
tants, and  recover  stolen  stock.  A  correspondent 
accompanied  the  detachment,  and  an  article  from 
his  pen  was  published  in  the  Los  Angeles  Star  of 
August  27,  1859,  under  the  headlines,  ''Military 
Expedition  to  Owens  Lake — No  Stock  in  the  Val- 
ley— Indians  Peaceable  and  Reliable — Discovery 
of  a  New  Route  to  Salt  Lake."  From  it  we  learn 
that  the  expedition  was  commanded  by  Lieut.  Col. 
Beall,  who  took  a  detachment  of  Co.  K,  First 
Dragoons,  with  Capt.  Davidson  and  Lieut.  Chap- 
man as  next  in  command.  They  started  from  Fort 
Tejon  July  21,  1859,  with  rations  for  thirty  days, 
a  wagon,  a  howitzer  and  a  pack  train.  Traveling 
via  Walker's  Basin,  the  Kern  River  mines,  up  the 
south  fork  of  the  Kern,  and  through  Walker's 
Pass  they  came  to  Owens  Lake.  They  found  a 
fine  meadow  of  800  to  1,000  acres  at  the  foot  of 
the  lake,  and  little  or  no  meadow  at  any  other 
one  spot  on  its  shores.  The  ' '  emphatically  saline ' ' 
character  of  the  lake  water  received  comment ;  so 
also  did  "myriads  of  small  flies  over  the  water. 
The  winds  drive  the  larvae  in  large  quantities 
upon  the  shore  of  the  lake,  where  they  are  easily 
collected  by  the  squaws." 

The  correspondent  in  speaking  of  Owens  River 
says  that  the  Indians  call  it  "Wakopee."  This  is 
so  similar  in  sound  to  "Waucoba"  as  to  justify 
a  surmise  that  the  latter  word  may  have  had  a 
more  general  application  in  the  original  naming 

78  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

of  this  region  tlian  has  been  commonly  adopted  or 

The  expedition  found  *' beautiful  streams  of 
clear,  cold  water,  irrigating  beautiful  and  fertile 
sections  of  the  valley  for  the  following  sixty-two 
miles  from  Pine  Creek,  principal  among  which 
are  Clark's  and  Dragon  forks,  either  of  which 
supplies  nearly  as  much  water  at  this  season  of 
the  year  as  does  the  Kern  River."  "One  of  the 
greatest  aqueous  curiosities  of  the  trip,"  says  the 
letter,  ''was  a  single  spring,  to  which  was  given 
the  name  of  Mammoth,  from  which  runs  a  stream 
of  water  with  a  fair  current  fifteen  or  twenty  feet 
wide  and  about  two  and  one-half  feet  deep."  Later 
residents  know  this  as  Black  Rock  Spring. 

The  correspondent  writes : 

"Although  for  some  distance  below  the  lake  we  encountered 
temporaiy  abodes  of  the  Indians,  yet  in  no  instance  were  the 
troops  enabled  to  get  sight  of  a  single  one,  they  having  fled 
before  our  approach  (as  we  afterwards  learned),  they  having 
been  told  that  they  would  be  killed,  until  we  reached  Pine 
Creek,  where  the  interpreter  found  a  poor  woman  attempting 
to  escape  with  her  crippled  child.  She  having  been  assured 
that  the  people  would  not  be  injured  soon  became  the  means 
of  reassuring  the  Indians,  after  which  there  was  but  little 
difficulty  in  communicating  with  them. 

"To  our  surprise  we  saw  but  veiy  few  horses  among  them, 
and  that,  too,  on  the  upper  waters  of  Owens  River,  and  these 
evidently  were  obtained  from  the  Walker  River  Indians.  They 
informed  Captain  Davidson  that  some  four  or  five  Indians,  in 
years  past,  were  in  the  habit  of  stealing  horses  for  the  purpose 
of  eating  them,  but  esteeming  it  wrong  they  some  five  years 
since  punished  some  of  the  party  with  death  and  the  rest  had 
died  from  natural  causes,  since  when  none  had  been  stolen  by 
their  people.  They  told  us  where  we  could  find  the  bones  of 
the  animals  they  destroyed,  and  most  certainly  the  appear- 


ance  corroborated  their  statement,  for  there  were  no  bones  of 
more  recent  date  than  four  or  five  years. 

"The  Wakopee  or  Owens  River  Indians  appear  to  be  both 
morally  and  physically  superior  to  any  of  their  race  in  Cali- 
fornia, for  in  point  of  probity  and  honesty  I  certainly  have 
never  met  their  equal;  and  as  to  their  physical  condition,  I 
saw  none  sick  or  infirm  save  the  child  already  alluded  to, 
although  they  will  number  1200  or  1500  souls. 

*'Wliilst  talking  to  their  head  men,  who  had  assembled  for 
that  purpose,  Captain  Davidson  informed  them  that  so  long 
as  they  were  peaceful  and  honest  the  government  would  pro- 
tect them  in  the  enjoyment  of  their  rights.  Their  reply  was 
that  such  had  always  been  their  conduct  and  should  ever  be ; 
that  they  had  depended  on  their  own  unaided  resources;  that 
they  had  at  all  times  treated  the  whites  in  a  friendly  manner, 
and  intended  to  do  so  in  the  future.  He  further  infonned 
them  that  should  they  become  dishonest  and  resort  to  murder 
and  robbeiy,  they  would  be  punished  with  the  sword.  The  old 
captain  or  head  man  turned  with  a  smile  to  the  interpreter 
and  said:  'Tell  him  that  we  fear  it  not;  that  what  I  said,  I 
have  said.  I  have  lain  my  heart  at  his  feet;  let  him  look  at 
it.'  " 

An  editorial  note  in  the  Star  said : 

"Within  60  or  80  miles  of  Owens  Lake  there  is  an 
immigration  of  about  50  large  wagons  going  to  Aurora, 
Mono  County,  loaded  with  valuable  goods  and  machinery, 
which  can  reach  their  destination  by  no  other  route  than 
through  Owens  Valley,  besides  which  there  are  on  the  road  a 
great  many  thousand  head  of  cattle,  sheep  and  hogs  for  the 
above  destination." 

This  indicates  that  there  was  probably  qnite 
an  amount  of  Owens  Valley  travel,  of  which  no 
record  has  been  found,  on  the  part  of  people  hav- 
ing Aurora  or  other  points  to  the  north  as  their 

Notes  exhibited  in  Los  Angeles  in  1859  claimed 
that  a  large  deposit  of  coal  existed  in  the  south- 



eastern  part  of  what  is  now  Inyo  county.  Stephen 
Gr.  Gregg,  James  Bell  and  a  man  named  Eeynolds 
made  a  trip  into  the  desert  to  find  the  supposed 
coal,  and  ascertained  that  the  vein  described  was 
a  different  and  useless  material.  This  was  the 
first  of  the  many  parties  which  crossed  the  Si- 
erras on  prospecting  trips  in  this  region,  though 
the  Mormons  had  given  attention  to  the  moun- 
tains of  the  eastern  deserts. 

In  the  winter  of  1859  a  company  known  as  the 
Hill  party  came,  probably  from  Mono  Diggings, 
and  established  temporary  headquarters  near  the 
present  situation  of  Lone  Pine.  Prospecting  was 
carried  on  in  the  foothills  to  the  east  and  west,  and 
what  was  called  Potosi  district  grew — or  rather 
started — from  discoveries  in  the  eastern  range. 
There  is  no  record  of  any  district  organizations. 
The  party  moved  northward  and  prospected  Ma- 
zourka  Canyon,  east  of  Independence,  locating  the 
Iowa  and  several  other  claims. 

Lewis  A.  Spitzer,  who  was  Assessor  of  San 
Clara  County  for  many  years,  later,  was  one  of  a 
party  which  left  Visalia  early  in  1860,  and  spent 
some  weeks  prospecting  in  the  foothills  bordering 
Owens  Valley.  The  party,  which  included  also 
Sam  Kelsey,  Charles  and  Jerome  Smith  and 
Charles  Lumro,  found  nothing  important  enough 
to  keep  it  from  going  on  to  Mono  Diggings,  the. 
original  objective. 

About  the  same  time  Dr.  Darwin  French  and 
his  men  entered  the  southern  part  of  the  county, 
and  in  March,  1860,  they  discovered  silver-lead 
ores  at  Old  Coso.     The  same  expedition  named 


Darwin  Canyon  and  Falls  in  honor  of  its  leader. 
The  men  included  Dennis  Searles,  D.  M.  Harwood, 
Robert  Bailey,  James  Kitchens,  — .  Walweber, 
Henry  Siddons,  Montgomery  Smith,  Sam  dinger, 
Zebe  Lashley,  and  Charles  Uhl,  with  Dr.  French 
as  captain. 

This  discovery  created  a  considerable  amount 
of  interest.  The  San  Francisco  Alta  of  July  24, 
1860,  reported  that  ''assays  of  samples  from  the 
Coso  mines  gave,  in  silver  at  $1.34  per  ounce, 
$1,226.69;  gold,  $26.45,"  these  being  from  claims 
located  by  a  party  headed  by  M.  H.  Farley,  fol- 
lowing close  after  French.  These  men  located  on 
a  wholesale  scale,  taking  up  ninety  claims.  They 
called  the  immediate  locality  Silver  Mountain. 
Farley,  in  giving  his  report  so  that  it  reached  the 
Alta,  said  that  gold  had  also  been  found  going 
''fifty  per  cent"  to  the  pan.  He  described  the 
country  as  sterile  and  waterless  except  for  boiling 
springs,  and  may  be  further  quoted : 

"A  few  scattered  Indians  (the  Coso  tribe)  live  on  herbs, 
roots  and  worms.  They  run  swiftly  away  upon  seeing  the 
whites.  About  20  miles  to  the  southward  of  Silver  Mountain 
the  party  visited  an  active  volcano.  On  some  of  the  cliffs  in 
the  neighborhood  of  the  volcano  were  found  sculptured  and 
painted  figures,  the  latter  colored  with  some  pigment — perhaps 
cinnabar.  They  were  evidently  the  work  of  a  former  race, 
for  the  intelligence  necessary  to  produce  them  does  not  exist 
among  the  squalid  creatures  now  inhabiting  that  country." 

Farley  estimated  that  there  were  500  men  on 
the  ground.  His  guess  was  probably  as  inaccurate 
as  his  reference  to  a  "volcano,"  by  which  he 
doubtless  referred  to  Coso  Hot  Springs.  The 
Visalia  Delta  of  the  same  month  reported : 

82  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

"Persons  are  leaving  almost  daily  for  the  mines.  There 
are  now  at  the  mines  about  200  men,  and  about  100  prospect- 
ing south  and  east  of  Owens  Lake." 

The  Oroville,  Butte  County,  Record  of  July  21 
reported,  on  the  strength  of  statements  by  re- 
turned Orovillians,  that  there  were  eighty-two 
men  at  the  mines  or  in  the  vicinity,  and  that  the 
Coso  Mining  Company  had  been  organized  by 
Oroville  people,  with  William  Mclntyre  as  presi- 
dent; W.  C.  Walden,  secretary;  W.  B.  Finch, 
treasurer ;  and  with  $78,000  capital  stock,  divided 
into  156  shares. 

Men  of  the  French  party  organized  what  they 
called  the  Coso  Gold  and  Silver  Mining  Company, 
with  James  Hitchens  as  president.  A  report  by 
Hitchens,  printed  the  following  January,  was  en- 
thusiastic in  its  claim  for  the  richness  of  the 

The  most  important  ventures  of  that  season, 
1860,  were  the  Russ  and  George  parties.  An  ad- 
dress by  Henry  G.  Hanks,  delivered  in  the  San 
Francisco  Academy  of  Sciences  and  reported  in 
the  Bulletin  of  February  1,  1864,  stated  that  the 
New  World  Mining  and  Exploration  Company 
left  San  Francisco  March  4,  1860.  Among  its 
twenty  or  more  men  were  Col.  H.  P.  Russ,  the 
leader;  T.  H.  Goodman,  afterward  captain  of  one 
of  the  military  companies  at  Camp  Independence, 
and  later  a  high  official  of  the  Southern  Pacific; 
0.  L.  Matthews,  who  was  to  become  Inyo  County's 
first  judge ;  and  John  Searles. 

Dr.  S.  G.  George  headed  a  contingent  which 
included  S.  G.  Gregg,  in  after  years  Inyo's  Sher- 


iff;  W.  T.  Henderson,  adventurer;  Moses  Thayer, 
and  others.  This  detachment  met  and  joined  the 
San  Franciscans  at  Walker's  Pass,  and  the  com- 
bined forces  entered  Owens  Valley.  A  subdivision 
went  eastward  from  Owens  Lake. 

The  north-traveling  section  established  a  camp 
on  Owens  River,  a  few  miles  southeast  of  the  site 
of  Independence.  Dr.  George  observed,  through 
a  field  glass,  the  bold  outcroppings  of  the  Union 
lode,  and  he  and  Russ  went  to  examine  it.  Finding 
the  prospect  encouraging,  camp  was  moved  to  the 
vicinity  of  the  croppings,  and  the  men  proceeded 
to  organize  Russ  mining  district,  the  first  sem- 
blance of  any  form  of  civil  government  in  the  ter- 
ritory now  included  in  Inyo  County.  Russ  was 
chairman  of  the  meeting  and  George  was  its  sec- 
retary. Hanks,  in  his  address,  gave  the  date  as 
April  20,  1860.  Among  the  claims  located  at  this 
time  were  the  Union,  Eclipse  and  Ida,  as  well  as 
a  number  which,  unlike  these,  were  not  afterward 
worked  to  any  extent.  Thayer  was  made  superin- 
tendent of  operations,  but  was  soon  succeeded  by 

Indians  began  to  visit  the  camp  in  friendly 
fashion,  and  were  well  treated.  The  whites 
sought  to  learn  the  names  of  surrounding  objects. 
Chief  George  (who  became  a  leader  in  the  Indian 
war)  told  them  that  the  name  of  the  mountain 
range  to  the  eastward  was  "Inyo,"  meaning,  as 
near  as  could  be  ascertained,  ''the  dwelling  place 
of  a  great  spirit."  This  is  the  origin  of  the 
county's  name,  and  the  occasion  was  the  first  time 
it  had  come  to  the  whites'  attention. 

84  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

The  detachment  which  had  gone  eastward  had 
not  been  idle.  Ores  had  been  found  in  the  rugged 
Panamints  and  other  ranges,  and  Telescope  min- 
ing district  had  been  organized,  at  a  date  of 
which  no  record  is  known  to  exist.  W.  B.  Lilly 
was  its  recorder  and  E.  McKinley  was  his  deputy. 
Henderson  was  appointed  superintendent  of  the 
Combination  mines. 

The  district  took  its  name  from  Telescope 
Peak,  the  highest  point  of  the  Panamints  and  one 
of  the  most  prominent  landmarks  of  the  entire 
desert  region.  Henderson  had  christened  the 
height  when  he  ascended  it  and  noted  the  mag- 
nificent view  from  its  lofty  and  isolated  summit. 

Henderson  himself  was  a  character  of  some 
notoriety.  He  had  been  a  member  of  Harry  Love's 
posse  of  man-hunters  who  pursued  and  killed  the 
outlaw  Joaquin  Murietta,  of  western  California 
record.  Many  credited  Henderson  with  having 
fired  the  shot  that  laid  that  redoubtable  murderer 
low.  Henderson  himself  denied  this,  and  said  that 
Murietta  was  slain  by  J.  A.  White,  who  was  a 
member  of  this  Telescope  party,  and  who  was 
killed  by  Indians  near  those  mines  soon  after  the 
war  began.  In  later  years,  Henderson  became  less 
averse  to  accepting  the  distinction  of  having  killed 
the  bandit,  and  when  he  died,  in  Coarse  Gold, 
Fresno  County,  in  December,  1882,  his  reputed 
part  in  that  affair  was  generally  accepted  as  fact. 

Some  of  the  Telescope  people  went  back  to 
San  Francisco,  taking  several  sacks  of  rich  ore. 
An  excitement  of  some  consequence  was  skill- 
fully worked  up  by  these  men,  for  whom  a  field 


had  been  prepared  by  the  rich  mines  of  the  Corn- 
stock  lode.  Bailey,  one  of  the  Telescope  locators, 
was  a  leader  in  working  the  financiers, -and  Jack 
Prouty  was  another  who  shared  in  the  game  of 
selling  stock  in  companies  formed  to  work  claims 
or  extensions.  Many  thousands  of  dollars  were 
picked  up  by  these  enterprising  parties  before 
they  left  the  city  to  "develop  the  properties." 
They  kept  going.  Prouty  got  to  Mazatlan,  Mex- 
ico, where  he  was  murdered — greatly  to  the  satis- 
faction of  Henderson,  who  wrote  that  it  was  a 
*' timely  end  of  a  miserable  humbug."  Bailey 
disappeared  also,  so  far  as  his  dupes  were  con- 
cerned, with  $25,000  of  their  money.  Stephen  G. 
Gregg  saw  him  afterward  on  a  coast  steamer, 
but  was  unable  to  find  him  when  the  boat  reached 
San  Francisco,  or  ever  after. 

Little  work  was  done  on  the  Telescope  mines 
at  that  time.  The  following  year  Henderson  and 
others  started  a  150-foot  tunnel  to  tap  the  Christ- 
mas Gift  ledge.  They  kept  at  it  for  a  few  months, 
until  the  Indian  outbreak  drove  them  out.  The 
antimony  deposit  near  Wild  Eose  Spring,  north- 
erly from  Telescope  Peak,  was  found  during  the 
first  summer's  trip  to  the  region,  if  we  accept 
the  evidence  of  a  chiseled  ''July  4,  1860"  in  its 

Argus  district  was  not  far  behind  Buss  in 
organization,  though  there  is  disagreement  as  to 
its  date.  Hanks  gave  it  as  May  21,  1860.  James 
E.  Parker,  in  an  address  at  Lone  Pine  on  the 
Centennial  Fourth  of  July,  said  it  was  July  23, 
1860.    These  mines  appear  to  have  been  found  by 

86  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

an  independent  party,  for  neither  the  name  of  S. 
D.  Hassey,  chairman  of  the  organization  meeting, 
or  of  M.  Valentine,  its  secretary,  appears  on  the 
roster  of  either  the  New  World  or  the  George 

Later  in  1860  the  George  party  made  another 
trip  from  Visalia  and  penetrated  the  Death  Val- 
ley country.  One  of  its  discoveries,  made  De- 
cember 25,  1860,  was  the  Christmas  Gift  mine,  on 
which  Henderson  worked  the  following  year. 
This  expedition  chose  its  season  to  avoid  the  heat 
that  had  been  found  on  the  desert  the  preceding 
summer,  and  succeeded  so  well  that  snow  fell  over 
the  whole  countryside  before  a  start  was  made  for 
home.  Provisions  began  to  give  out,  and  the  last 
baking  of  bread  was  used  at  what  the  report  calls 
Granite  Springs.  A  mule  and  a  burro  were  turned 
loose  to  shift  for  themselves.  The  next  day  it  was 
found  that  the  mule  had  perished  in  the  snow,  and 
the  burro  was  making  a  meal  off  of  the  blanket 
which  had  been  put  on  the  animal  to  help  to  pro- 
tect it  from  the  cold.  No  wood  was  available; 
the  scant  sagebrush  was  too  wet  to  use  for  fuel. 
The  men  were  compelled  to  walk,  jump  and  dance 
about  their  camp  during  the  night  to  keep  from 
freezing.  The  next  day  the  party  reached  Coso 
Springs,  and  from  there  got  safely  home. 

Dr.  Darwin  French  had  heard  of  some  place 
on  the  desert  where  the  Indians  shot  golden  bul- 
lets. While  there  were  few  guns  among  the 
savages  for  such  uses,  the  story  sounded  good 
enough  to  justify  French  in  organizing  another 
expedition.    Among  its  nine  members  were  John 


and  Dennis  Searles,  T.  G-.  Beasley  and  T.  F.  A. 
Connelly.  The  party  wandered  for  eleven  months 
over  different  sections  of  Inyo,  but  failed  to  find 
any  place  where  the  yellow  metal  was  so  common, 
or  where  there  was  enough  of  it  to  tempt  them  to 
stay.  They  went  back  to  Visalia  satisfied  that 
the  story  belonged  in  the  same  class  with  that  of 
Ponce  de  Leon 's  fountain  of  eternal  youth. 





squaw" — bishop's  SAN  FRANCIS  RANCH — AN  ELECTION 

Prospecting  had  been  the  only  purpose  of  the 
transient  population  of  Owens  Valley  prior  to 
1861.  Some  livestock  had  been  driven  through 
the  valley  to  reach  the  mining  camps  to  the  north- 
ward, and  observant  men  had  noted  grazing  pos- 
sibilities which  were  later  used.  An  extract  from 
a  Los  Angeles  paper,  printed  on  a  preceding  page, 
indicates  that  this  route  was  thus  utilized  two 
years  earlier. 

The  father  and  mother  of  McGree  brothers,  J. 
N.  Summers,  Mrs.  Summers,  Alney,  John  and 
Barton  McGee,  brothers,  and  A.  T.  McGee,  a 
cousin,  gathered  a  herd  of  beef  cattle  in  Tulare 
County  in  the  spring  of  1861  and  started  for  Mono- 
ville.  Mono  County,  via  Walker's  Pass.  Barton 
McGee 's  account  relates  that  from  Eoberts '  ranch 
on  the  south  fork  of  Kern  River  to  Adobe 
Meadows  in  Mono  County,  considerably  more  than 
100  miles,  not  a  white  person  or  white  settlement 
was  seen.  They  estimated  that  there  were  1,000 
Indians   then   in   Owens   Valley,   who   were   not 



friendly  to  the  whites  and  considered  that  every 
one  who  came  through  their  territory  should  pay 
tribute.  Their  demands  on  the  McGee  party  were 
refused.  No  violence  was  offered,  though  efforts 
were  made  to  stampede  the  cattle,  until  threats 
of  death  if  there  were  further  attempts  in  that 
direction  put  an  end  to  such  interference.  The 
journey  was  finished  without  further  molestation. 

The  first  stockman  to  come  this  way  to  remain 
was  Henry  Vansickle,  of  Carson  (then  called 
Eagle)  Valley,  Nevada.  A.  Van  Fleet  came  with 
him.  W.  S.  Bailey  drove  his  herds  into  Long  Val- 
ley, just  north  of  the  Inyo  line,  about  the  same 

Van  Fleet  was  accompanied  by  men  named 
Coverdale  and  Ethridge.  The  three  went  south 
as  far  as  Lone  Pine  Creek,  seeing  no  white  men 
except  a  few  scattered  prospectors  in  the  White 
Mountain  foothills.  Returning  to  the  northern 
end  of  the  valley.  Van  Fleet  made  camp  at  the 
river  bend  near  the  present  site  of  Laws,  and  pre- 
pared for  permanent  residence.  He  put  up  a 
cabin  of  sod  and  stone,  completing  it  in  August, 
1861 — the  first  white  man's  habitation  in  Owens 
Valley.  He  cut  some  wild  hay  that  summer,  the 
first  harvest  of  any  kind. 

While  Van  Fleet  was  building,  a  rough  stone 
cabin  was  begun  by  Putnam,  at  Independence,  a 
stone's  throw  westerly  from  where  the  county 
jail  now  stands.  The  building  was  torn  down  in 
1876.  During  the  war  period  it  was  as  much 
fortress  as  residence,  and  was  used  as  house  of 
refuge,  home  station  and  hospital.    The  neighbor- 

90  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

hood  took  the  name  of  Putnam's,  and  was  so 
known  for  some  years.  Once  during  the  war, 
when  the  whites  abandoned  the  valley,  they  pre- 
pared a  surprise  for  any  marauding  natives  who 
might  undertake  to  destroy  the  cabin.  A  trench 
was  dug  around  it  and  a  quantity  of  blasting 
powder  was  poured  into  the  trench,  with  a  train 
leading  to  the  wooden  roof.  The  expectation  was 
that  one  of  the  first  acts  of  wreckage  would  be 
to  bum  the  roof,  and  while  the  red  men  stood 
around  enjoying  the  spectacle  more  or  less  of 
them  would  be  blown  into  the  happy  hunting 
ground.  But  the  close  watch  kept  by  the  Indians 
defeated  the  plan.  They  carefully  dug  out  the 
powder,  and  set  a  squaw  at  work  with  a  stone 
mortar  to  reduce  the  large  grains  to  suitable 
size  for  rifle  use.  While  this  was  being  done,  a 
spark  was  struck  in  the  mortar.  The  conse- 
quences were  laconically  explained  by  an  Indian 
some  years  afterward;  he  told  of  gathering  up 
the  powder  and  putting  some  of  it  into  the  mortar, 
with  the  rest  piled  up  close  by,  then  ''No  mas  (no 
more)  ketchum  squaw!" 

Soon  after  Putnam  put  up  his  house,  Fred 
Uhlmeyer  and  J.  F.  Wilson  came  from  Visalia 
and  ''squatted"  on  land  near  Independence. 

Samuel  A,  Bishop  and  his  retinue  started  from 
Fort  Tejon  July  3,  1861,  for  the  Owens  River 
country,  which  had  been  examined  by  his  scouts. 
Mrs.  Bishop,  the  first  white  woman  to  tarry  in 
the  valley,  came  with  her  husband;  in  the  party 
were  also  Mrs.  Bishop's  brother,  named  Sam 
Young,  E.  P.  ("Stock")  Eobinson,  Pat  Gallagher 


and  several  Indian  herders.  They  drove  between 
500  and  600  head  of  cattle  and  50  horses.  On 
August  22  they  reached  Bishop  Creek,  and  estab- 
lished a  camp  at  what  Bishop  named  the  San 
Francis  Eanch,  at  a  point  where  the  stream  leaves 
the  higher  sandy  bench  lands  and  gravel  foothill 
slopes  and  enters  the  lower  level  of  the  valley, 
about  three  miles  south  of  west  of  the  present 
town  of  Bishop. 

Pines  growing  near  by  were  felled,  and  from 
them  slabs  were  hewn  for  the  construction  of  the 
first  wooden  structures,  two  small  cabins. 

While  Bishop's  residence  in  this  valley  was 
brief,  as  his  natoe  was  given  to  the  stream  and  later 
to  the  town  we  note  some  details  of  his  career. 
Samuel  Addison  Bishop  was  born  in  Albemarle 
County,  Virginia,  September  2,  1825.  He  started 
for  California  April  15,  1849,  and  after  an  ad- 
venturous journey  reached  Los  Angeles  October 
8th.  We  next  hear  of  him  as  an  officer  in  a  war 
with  the  Mariposa  Indians  in  1851.  By  1853,  he 
was  virtually  in  charge  of  the  Indian  reservation 
at  Fort  Tejon.  That  year  he  and  General  Beale, 
later  prominent  in  Kern  County  affairs,  formed 
a  partnership  in  stockraising  and  land  ownership. 
During  the  period  he  was*  the  sole  judge  of  what 
courts  there  were  in  the  region,  and  appears  to 
have  filled  his  trust  with  credit.  In  1854  he  and 
Alex  Godey,  one  of  Fremont's  scouts,  contracted 
to  furnish  provisions  for  the  troops  at  Fort  Tejon. 
The  government  decided  to  build  a  military  road 
from  Fort  Smith,  Arkansas,  to  Fort  Tejon,  and 
Bishop  and  Beale  took  a  contract  for  its  construe- 

92  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

tion.  While  Beale  began  at  the  Fort  Smith  end, 
Bishop  started  to  build  easterly  from  Tejon.  The 
partners  were  allowed  the  use  of  camels  which 
the  government  had  imported  for  desert  work. 
The  undertaking  was  full  of  adventures  with 
which  this  record  has  no  special  concern. 

Bishop's  next  venture  was  into  this  valley, 
after  he  and  Beale  had  dissolved  partnership. 
Following  his  stay  in  Inyo,  he  took  a  promi- 
nent part  in  affairs  in  Kern,  and  became  one  of 
that  county's  first  Supervisors  when  its  govern- 
ment was  created  in  1866.  Two  years  later  he 
and  others  secured  a  franchise  for  constructing 
a  car  line  in  San  Jose,  and  that  city  was  there- 
after his  home  up  to  his  death,  June  3,  1893. 

In  the  fall  of  1861  J.  S.  Broder,  Col.  L.  F. 
Cralley,  Dan  Wyman  (hence  Wyman  Creek), 
Graves  brothers  and  others  came  from  Aurora 
to  seek  placer  mines  said  to  exist  on  the  east  side 
of  the  White  Mountains.  They  spent  the  winter 
on  Cottonwood  Creek.  Early  the  following  year 
Indians  from  farther  eastward  ordered  them  to 
leave,  when  Chief  Joe  Bowers  interfered,  saying 
it  was  his  territory.  He  later  warned  the  whites, 
however,  that  they  had  better  go,  as  he  might  not 
be  able  to  protect  them  though  he  wished  to  do 
so.  They  took  his  advice,  after  giving  him  such 
provisions  as  they  did  not  need  and  caching  their 
mining  goods.  After  the  first  hostilities  of  the 
war  had  ended,  the  party  went  back,  accompanied 
by  T.  F.  A.  Connelly.  Joe  helped  them  to  find 
the  cached  goods,  which  had  been  raided.  One 
item  in  the  stock  was  a  flask  of  quicksilver.    A 


hole  had  been  broken  in  the  iron  flask,  and  the 
metal  spilled.  In  explaining  the  occurrence,  Joe 
demonstrated  by  making  motions  of  picking  up 
something,  then  showing  his  empty  fingers,  with 
the  remark:  ''Heap  no  ketchum."  Joe  was 
friendly  to  the  whites  throughout  the  Indian 
troubles;  and  as  will  later  appear,  one  of  the 
men  he  specially  befriended  had  less  of  decency 
and  justice  in  his  makeup  than  did  the  aboriginal 

The  brief  tenancy  of  prospectors  in  ''White 
Mountain  District"  in  the  fall  of  1861  served  as 
a  basis  for  an  attempted  election  fraud  which  at- 
tracted much  attention  in  California  legislative 
affairs  in  1862  and  1863.  That  section,  now  in 
Inyo  County,  was  then  under  Mono's  jurisdic- 
tion. The  latter  county  was  joined  in  a  legisla- 
tive district  with  Tuolumne,  for  election  of  State 
Senator  and  Assemblyman. 

"Big  Springs  Precinct"  was  established  by 
Mono  Supervisors,  August  26,  1861,  with  its  poll- 
ing place  at  what  is  now  known  as  Deep  Springs. 
This  was  done  by  the  Mono  board  on  a  re- 
quest bearing  one  or  two  signatures.  The  elec- 
tion was  held  September  4th,  so  the  precinct  was 
created  less  than  two  weeks  in  advance. 

The  candidates  for  the  State  Senate  from  the 
district  were  Leander  Quint,  Union  Democrat, 
and  Joseph  M.  Cavis,  Union;  for  the  Assembly, 
B.  K.  Davis,  Breckenridge  Democrat,  and  Nelson 
M.  Orr,  Republican.  Election  returns  as  sub- 
mitted by  the  County  Clerk  gave  the  vote  as  fol- 
lows: For  Senator:  Cavis  372  in  Mono,  1,664  in 
Tuolumne;  total  2,036;  Quint  741  in  Mono,  1,467 

94  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

in  Tuolumne,  total  2,208.  For  Assemblyman ;  Orr 
1,728  in  Tuolumne,  344  in  Mono,  total  2,072 ;  Davis 
1,563  in  Tuolumne,  657  in  Mono,  total  2,220.  On 
the  face  of  the  returns,  therefore,  Quint  and  Davis 
were  elected. 

Orr,  of  Tuolumne,  was  convinced  that  there 
was  something  wrong  with  the  figures,  so  he  came 
over  to  Mono  and  made  a  personal  investigation. 
The  returns  of  that  county  showed  that  Big 
Springs  precinct  had  cast  a  total  of  521  votes. 
McConnell,  for  Governor,  had  received  406  of 
these.  Quint  had  been  given  510,  and  Davis  298. 
Not  a  single  Republican  vote  was  noted,  and 
another  singular  disclosure  was  that  while  a  full 
State  ticket  was  being  elected  no  votes  were  re- 
turned for  any  office  except  Governor,  Senator  and 
Assemblyman.  Orr  visited  Big  Springs  precinct, 
and  was  able  to  find  only  a  handful  of  men  in  the 

Orr  and  Cavis  applied  to  the  respective  Houses 
of  the  Legislature  to  be  seated  in  place  of  Davis 
and  Quint.  The  Assembly  Committee  on  Elec- 
tions held  a  lengthy  hearing,  calling  many  wit- 
nesses from  Mono  County.  Orr,  petitioner, 
alleged  that  no  election  was  held  in  the  so-called 
Big  Springs  precinct,  and  produced  evidence  that 
there  was  virtually  no  population  in  the  precinct. 
Davis'  witnesses  (none  of  whom  were  from  the 
precinct)  testified  that  they  had  sold  goods  to  be 
taken  to  Big  Springs  to  an  amount  indicating  a 
large  population,  and  that  they  believed  there 
were  at  least  500  voters  there.  They  also  testified 
that  one  of  Orr's  witnesses  had  been  paid  $250  for 


his  testimony.  E.  M.  Wilson,  County  Clerk  of 
Mono,  when  called  on  to  produce  the  ballots  and 
poll  list,  said  he  had  mailed  them  to  Sacramento, 
but  singularly  they  failed  to  reach  that  city. 

A  witness  testified  that  he  saw  the  alleged  poll 
list  and  election  returns  prepared  in  a  cabin  near 
Mono  Lake ;  that  they  were  written  on  torn  frac- 
tional sheets  of  blue  foolscap  paper.  Others  were 
unable  to  identify  more  than  two  or  three  names 
on  the  alleged  poll  list,  when  it  had  been  presented 
to  the  Supervisors,  as  being  those  of  persons 
known  to  be  in  Mono  County.  A  citizen  who 
looked  over  the  list  was  struck  with  the  familiar 
appearance  of  some  of  the  names,  and  finally 
ascertained  that  the  list  had  been  copied  from 
the  passenger  list  of  the  steamer  on  which  he  had 
come  from  Panama  to  San  Francisco. 

Notwithstanding  the  palpable  fraud,  a  few  in 
each  House  were  found  to  support  its  bene- 
ficiaries. Orr  was  declared  to  have  been  elected, 
by  vote  of  the  Assembly  February  13,  1862,  forty- 
eight  for  Orr,  four  for  Davis.  The  Senate,  like 
the  Assembly,  had  a  Democratic  majority  in  that 
session,  but  proved  to  be  less  ready  to  right  the 
wrong;  and  it  was  not  until  March  28,  1863,  well 
into  the  session  of  a  year  later,  that  Cavis  was 
seated  by  a  three-fourths  Union  Senate. 






As  the  winter  of  1861-62  approached,  some 
of  the  cattlemen  who  had  driven  into  Owens  Val- 
ley saw  no  reason  for  leaving  its  abundant  graz- 
ing. As  late  as  the  first  week  in  November  Barton 
and  Alney  McGee  got  together  a  drove  of  1,500 
head  of  cattle,  and  came  this  way.  While  they 
were  at  Lone  Pine,  on  November  12th,  snow  fell 
to  a  depth  of  four  inches.  They  went  on  to 
George's  Creek,  then  concluded  to  winter  in  the 
valley.  Barton  McGee  reported  that  there  were 
then  settlers  on  Little  Pine  Creek  (Independence), 
Bishop  Creek  and  in  Round  Valley.  He  went  to 
Aurora  for  supplies,  where  he  found  eight  feet 
of  snow.  Returning  with  provender,  the  party 
went  to  Lone  Pine  and  put  up  a  cabin.  Fine 
weather  favored  them  until  Christmas  Eve,  when 
there  came  the  real  beginning  of  probably  the 
hardest  winter  that  white  men  ever  saw  in  Inyo. 
McGee  noted  that  there  was  not  a  day  of  the  next 
fifty-four  without  a  downpour  of  either  rain  or 
snow;  ''not  continuous,"  he  wrote,  "but  at  no 
time  did  it  quit  for  a  whole  day,  snowing  to  a 



depth  of  two  feet  or  more  and  then  raining  it  off. 
The  whole  country  was  soaked  through  and  all 
the  hills  were  deeply  covered.  All  the .  streams 
became  almost  impassable,  while  the  river  was 
from  one-fourth  to  one  mile  in  width,  about  half 
ice  and  half  water,  and  sweeping  on  to  the  lake, 
paying  no  respect  to  the  crooks  and  curves  of  the 
old  channel  in  its  course  to  the  lake,  which  it 
raised  twelve  feet."  These  reports  of  severe 
weather  in  Inyo  are  corroborated  by  official 
records  for  other  parts  of  California,  for  during 
that  January  the  rainfall  at  Sacramento  was  over 
fifteen  inches.  A  book  published  two  years  later 
refers  to  the  floods  of  that  winter  as  'Hhe  most 
overwhelming  and  disastrous  that  have  visited 
this  State  since  its  occupation  by  Americans." 
The  first  flood  submerged  the  Sacramento  Valley 
about  December  10th,  the  water  rising  higher  than 
in  either  of  the  memorable  floods  of  1851  and 
1852.  For  six  weeks  thereafter  an  unusual  amount 
of  rain  descended.  On  the  24th  of  January  the 
second  flood  attained  its  greatest  height,  and  the 
Sacramento  and  San  Joaquin  valleys  were  trans- 
formed into  a  broad  inland  sea  stretching  from 
the  foothills  of  the  Sierra  to  the  Coast  Range,  and 
somewhat  similar  in  extent  and  shape  to  Lake 
Michigan.  In  that  same  month  of  January,  a  rain 
of  three  days'  duration  fell  on  the  accumulated 
snow  around  Aurora,  many  of  the  adobe  and 
stone  buildings  of  the  camp  fell,  and  loss  of  life 
was  occasioned  by  a  flood  in  Bodie  creek.  The 
McGee  account  indicates  that  Owens  Valley 
shared  fully  in  the  great  downpour. 

98  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

The  few  white  men  in  the  valley  had  nothing 
on  which  to  subsist  except  beef,  and  much  of  the 
time  they  were  without  salt  to  make  their 
monotonous  fare  more  palatable.  What  must 
have  been  the  plight  of  the  Indians?  Life  was  a 
hard  struggle  for  them  at  the  best ;  and  under  the 
conditions  of  that  severe  winter  the  herds  of  the 
whites  offered  the  only  means  of  preventing 
starvation.  Besides,  the  Piute  held  that  the  white 
men  were  intruders.  That  the  natives  began  to 
gather  food  from  the  ranges  was  only  what  might 
have  been  expected ;  it  was  what  most  white  men 
would  have  done  under  such  circumstances.  The 
whites  submitted  to  the  loss  of  many  animals  be- 
fore beginning  retaliation. 

The  first  act  of  revenge  by  the  white  men  oc- 
curred when  Al  Thompson,  a  herder  in  Van- 
sickle's  employ,  saw  an  Indian  driving  away  an 
animal  and  promptly  shot  him.  This  occurred 
not  far  southeast  of  Bishop.  A  man  named  Cros- 
sen,  better  known  as  Yank,  was  then  captured  and 
killed  by  the  Indians.  He  had  come  from  Aurora 
and  had  stayed  for  a  few  days  with  Van  Fleet. 
He  crossed  the  river  to  the  west  side  and  was 
taken  not  far  from  where  Thompson  had  done  his 
killing.  All  that  was  ever  seen  of  him  again  was 
part  of  his  scalp,  found  at  Big  Pine. 

It  appears  to  be  true,  however,  that  scalping 
was  not  a  usual  practice  of  the  Owens  Valley  In- 
dians. Instances  of  that  kind  were  very  few. 
During  the  Indian  war,  a  collection  of  a  dozen 
scalps  of  white  men  were  found  in  a  cave  near 
Haiwai  (now  Haiwee).    The  supposition  was  that 


they  were  evidence  of  a  massacre  by  some  other 

The  principal  Indian  settlement  of  tjie  north- 
ern part  of  the  valley  was  on  Bishop  Creek,  within 
a  short  distance  of  Bishop's  camp.  Indians  from 
all  parts  of  the  valley,  and  beyond,  gathered  there 
in  the  fall  of  1861  and  held  a  big  fandango. 
Among  those  who  were  mixing  war  medicine  were 
the  usual  sorcerers,  who  claimed  that  their  magic 
would  make  the  white  men's  guns  so  they  could 
not  be  fired.  The  anxious  stockmen  kept  their 
weakness  concealed  as  well  as  they  could,  until  re- 
inforcements happened  to  arrive.  A  storm  had 
wet  the  guns  in  camp,  and  to  insure  their  relia- 
bility when  needed  they  were  taken  outside  and 
fired.  This,  disclosing  to  the  tribesmen  that  the 
sorcerers '  guarantees  were  not  wholly  dependable, 
helped  to  prevent  the  threatened  assault,  and  the 
gathered  Indians  moved  away. 

The  situation  caused  great  alarm  among  the 
scattered  settlers,  and  they  gladly  agreed  to  a 
pow-pow  with  the  Indian  chieftains.  This  confer- 
ence was  held  at  the  San  Francis  ranch  on  the  last 
day  of  January,  1862.  Chief  George  defined  the 
Indian  view  by  marking  two  lines  on  the  ground 
to  show  that  the  score  was  then  even,  referring 
to  the  Indian  killed  by  Thompson,  and  the  killing 
of  Crossen.  A  treaty  was  drawn  up  and  signed, 
as  follows : 

"We  the  undersigned,  citizens  of  Owens  Valley,  with  In- 
dian chiefs  representing  the  different  tribes  and  rancherias  of 
said  valley,  having  met  together  at  San  Francis  ranch,  and 
after  talking  over  all  past  grievances,  have  agreed  to  let  what 

100  THE    STORY   OF    INYO 

is  past  be  buried  in  oblivion;  and  as  evidence  of  all  things 
that  have  transpired  having  been  amicably  settled  between 
both  Indians  and  whites,  each  one  of  the  chiefs  and  whites 
present  have  voluntarily  signed  their  names  to  this  instnament 
of  writing. 

"And  it  is  further  agreed  that  the  Indians  are  not  to  be 
molested  in  their  daily  avocations  by  which  they  gain  an 
honest  living. 

"And  it  is  further  agreed  upon  the  part  of  the  Indians 
that  they  are  not  to  molest  the  property  of  the  whites,  nor  to 
drive  off  or  kill  cattle  that  are  running  in  the  valley,  and  for 
both  parties  to  live  in  peace  and  strive  to  promote  amicably 
the  general  interests  of  both  whites  and  Indians. 

"Given  under  our  hands  at  San  Francis  ranch  this  31st  day 
of  January,  1862." 

Signed  for  the  Indians  by  Chief  George,  Chief 
Dick  and  Little  Chief  Dick,  each  of  whom  made 
his  mark;  for  the  whites  by  Samuel  A.  Bishop, 
L.  J.  Cralley,  A.  Van  Fleet,  S.  E.  Graves,  W.  A. 
Greenly,  T.  Everlett,  John  Welch,  J.  S.  Howell, 
Daniel  Wyman,  A.  Thomson  and  E.  P.  Robinson. 

One  of  the  chiefs  missing  from  the  conference 
was  Joaquin  Jim,  leader  of  the  tribe  in  southern 
Mono,  which  then  included  the  valley  as  far  south 
as  Big  Pine  Creek.  It  was  probably  Joaquin 
Jim's  braves  who  began  renewed  depredations. 
At  any  rate,  the  treaty  proved  to  be  merely  a 
passing  incident.  Within  two  months  war  was  on 
in  earnest. 

During  February  Jesse  Summers  came  from 
Aurora  for  beef  for  that  market.  He  gathered 
a  few  in  the  southern  end  of  the  valley  and  went 
back  to  Aurora,  leaving  Bart  and  Alney  McGee  to 
drive  the  band.  They  got  as  far  as  Big  Pine 
Creek,  where  Jim's  camp  happened  to  be  at  the 


time.  Jim  and  a  few  of  Ms  men  visited  the  Mc- 
Gee  camp,  and  acted  so  unfriendly  that  the  broth- 
ers concluded  to  move.  Alney  went  to  get  the 
horses,  and  Jim  demanded  something  to  eat.  Bart 
poured  him  a  cup  of  coffee,  which  he  threw,  cup 
and  all,  into  the  fire.  McGee  jumped  toward  the 
guns,  which  the  Indians  had  set  to  one  side.  Mc- 
Gee took  the  precaution  to  discharge  the  weapons, 
then  told  Jim  to  take  them  and  go,  which  he  did. 
The  brothers  moved  on  and  spent  the  night  safely 
though  uncomfortably  in  a  wet  meadow,  with 
their  horses  close  at  hand.  Alney  went  on  the 
next  day  with  Summers,  whom  he  met  at  Van 
Fleet's.  Bart  went  to  the  San  Francis  ranch. 
The  next  day  he  rode  back  to  Putnam's  and  re- 
ported that  the  northern  settlers  wanted  help.  On 
his  way  down  the  speed  of  his  horse  got  him 
safely  past  a  band  of  Indians  at  Fish  Springs,  un- 
touched by  the  many  shots  they  fired  at  him. 

Fifteen  men  came  with  McGee  from  Putnam's 
to  help  to  move  the  cattle  from  Bishop  Creek.  The 
night  they  reached  the  San  Francis  ranch  the 
Piutes  provided  a  striking  exhibition  of  fireworks, 
running  about  and  waving  burning  pitchpine 
torches  secured  to  long  poles.  The  Indians  sur- 
rounded the  cabin  and  sent  in  a  delegation. 
Though  they  claimed  to  be  friendly,  they  held  a 
war  dance  around  the  building,  and  told  the  whites 
that  the  Piutes  had  charmed  lives  and  could  spit 
out  the  bullets  that  might  enter  their  bodies.  The 
night  passed  without  violence. 

The  next  morning  the  drive  of  stock  began, 
reaching  what  is  now  Keough's  Hot  Springs  the 

102  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

first  night.  Though  pickets  were  put  out,  Indians 
succeeded  in  driving  off  200  or  more  head  of  cat- 
tle. The  next  morning  three  of  the  men  went  after 
the  stock,  and  were  met  by  a  line  of  forty  or  fifty 
Indians  who  ordered  them  back — an  order  with 
which  they  could  do  nothing  but  comply.  Indians 
hovered  about  the  flanks  of  the  drive  down  the 
valley,  but  did  not  molest  it  further. 

A  few  days  later  Barton  and  John  McGee, 
Taylor  McGee,  Allen  Van  Fleet,  James  Harness, 
Tom  Hubbard,  Tom  Passmore,  Pete  Wilson  and 
Charley  Tyler  (''Nigger  Charley")  were  near 
Putnam's  when  they  saw  four  Indians  going 
toward  the  cattle.  Bart  and  Taylor  McGee,  Van 
Fleet,  Harness  and  Tyler  went  out  to  where  they 
were.  The  Indians  when  interrogated  said  they 
were  going  after  their  horses.  They  were  told 
they  could  go  on,  but  must  leave  their  weapons 
until  they  came  back.  This  they  refused  to  do. 
The  controversy  continued  for  some  time.  One 
account  is  that  Van  Fleet  made  the  first  threaten- 
ing move  by  leveling  his  gun  at  an  Indian;  his 
own  story,  and  that  of  other  whites,  was  that  the 
Indian  first  pointed  an  arrow  at  him.  Whatever 
the  facts  of  this,  Van  Fleet  turned  his  body  and 
got  the  first  wound,  an  arrow  in  his  side,  where 
its  obsidian  head  remained  until  his  death  fifty 
years  later.  Harness  was  also  wounded  before  the 
whites  shot.  In  the  melee  which  ensued  all  the 
Indians,  one  of  whom  was  Chief  Shondow,  were 
slain.  Hubbard  was  shot  through  the  arm  with 
an  arrow. 

It  is  fully  possible  that  the  whites  were  to 


blame  in  this  affair.  An  account  reaching  Aurora 
held  them  responsible,  and  Barton  McGee,  in 
writing  of  it,  said :  ' '  This  occurrence  created  a  lit- 
tle trouble  in  our  ranks,  some  thinking  we  were 
not  justified  in  firing  on  them  and  others  saying 
we  did  exactly  right.  Be  that  as  it  may,  it  was 
done. ' '  This  does  not  well  accord  with  the  narra- 
tion of  the  fight  as  above  printed  on  the  state- 
ments of  McGee  and  Van  Fleet. 

A  few  more  than  forty  white  men  were  gath- 
ered at  Putnam's,  and  they  began  to  strengthen 
their  fortification.  Rocks,  old  wagons,  boxes  and 
other  materials  were  used  to  pile  up  a  barricade. 
Charles  Anderson  was  elected  captain,  and  a  con- 
stant guard  was  maintained  while  the  company 
remained  there.  Sheriff  Scott,  of  Mono,  was 
among  the  men,  and  in  a  letter  said : ' '  The  Indians 
appear  warlike  here,  and  we  expect  a  battle  be- 
fore many  days — possibly  tonight.  There  are 
forty-two  of  us,  armed  with  rifles,  shotguns  and 
sixshooters.  We  have  fortified  ourselves  the  best 
we  could  with  wagons,  oxbows,  yokes,  rawhides, 
etc.  I  can  escape  easily,  but  to  do  so  would  be 
to  weaken  the  force  in  the  fort,  and  so  enable  the 
redskins  to  wipe  out  those  who  would  be  obliged 
to  remain." 

A  band  of  natives  had  gone  to  Van  Fleet's 
cabin  on  the  river,  previous  to  this  gathering  at 
Putnam's,  and  had  demanded  admission.  After 
some  parley  he  gave  them  provisions.  They  set 
out  toward  Benton,  then  known  as  Hot  Springs, 
where  a  prospector  named  E.  S.  Taylor  lived 
alone.    Taylor's  cabin  was  attacked  and  riddled 

104  THE    STORY    OF   INYO 

with  bullets  and  he  was  killed,  but  not  until  ten 
of  his  assailants  had  paid  with  their  lives.  Van 
Fleet  was  the  only  authority  for  this  statement, 
except  that  others  wrote  of  passing  and  seeing  the 
bullet-riddled  building.  A  report  taken  to  Aurora 
by  Albert  Jeffway,  an  express  rider  who  had  been 
in  Owens  Valley,  told  of  the  death  of  another 
Taylor,  near  Putnam's.  Taylor,  he  said,  was  hot- 
headed, and  got  into  a  row  during  which  he  killed 
two  or  three  Indians.  The  Piutes  set  fire  to  his 
cabin,  and  as  he  came  from  it  they  shot  him.  It 
is  at  least  possible  that  this  was  a  mistaken  ver- 
sion of  the  Benton  affair. 

Two  men  known  as  Vance  and  Shorty  were 
still  in  the  upper  end  of  the  valley,  or  may  have 
gone  there  from  Putnam's,  to  gather  up  what 
stock  they  could.  Seeing  Indians  after  their 
animals,  they  went  to  investigate,  were  fired  on, 
and  killed  two  natives. 

Whatever  of  division  there  may  have  been  in 
the  Putnam  camp  over  the  killing  of  Shondow, 
there  was  no  dissent  when  it  was  proposed  to 
strike  a  blow  that  would  discourage  raids  on  the 
cattle.  Preparations  for  a  campaign  were  made, 
and  twenty-three  men,  led  by  Anderson,  left  Put- 
nam's after  dusk  masked  their  movements.  Oral- 
ley  was  chosen  lieutenant.  Scott  Broder,  the  Mc- 
Gees,  Tyler,  Harness  and  Shea  were  among  those 
in  the  column,  which  went  that  night  to  the  sod 
cabin  of  Ault  and  Sadler,  not  far  from  the 
Alabama  hills. 

As  soon  as  the  east  began  to  gray,  three  men 
were  left  with  the  horses  at  the  cabin  and  the 


others  set  out  in  two  equal  squads.  Anderson's 
detachment  went  to  where  the  light  of  campfires 
could  be  seen  over  the  Alabama  hills;  the  others 
went  up  the  stream.  The  sun  was  just  rising  as 
Anderson  came  up  to  where  the  Indians  were 
breakfasting.  Firing  commenced  at  once,  a  num- 
ber of  Indians  being  killed  at  the  first  volley. 
They  ran  to  shelter  in  the  rocks,  *'and  a  good 
shelter  it  was,"  wrote  Bart  McGee,  *' cavities 
where  they  were  out  of  sight  in  less  than  thirty 
seconds.  We  could  not  follow  them  in,  so  we  did 
the  best  we  could  from  the  outside,  shooting  into 
the  mouths  of  their  dens,  while  the  Indians  threw 
arrows  among  us  in  showers.  It  seemed  the  air 
was  full  of  arrows  all  the  time.  They  did  not  have 
any  guns  or  they  would  have  made  it  a  hard  fight 
for  us.  We  fought  there  for  about  an  hour  be- 
fore the  other  boys,  hearing  our  firing  and  coming 
across  the  rough  hill,  could  reach  us.  We  fought 
until  about  1  o'clock,  hitting  some  30  or  40  of 
them,  destroying  about  a  ton  of  dried  meat  and 
some  of  their  camp  outfits. ' '  The  white  casualties 
included  another  arrow  hole  in  Hubbard's  arm,  a 
wound  in  Harness'  forehead  made  by  an  arrow 
which  shattered  against  the  skull  without  pene- 
trating, and  an  arrow  wound  in  Scott  Broder's 
shoulder.  The  last  mentioned  injury  was  so 
troublesome  that  the  citizens  withdrew  to  the  fort, 
leaving  the  natives  in  their  stronghold.  While 
McGee  mentions  that  30  or  40  Indians  were  hit, 
and  another  account  said  that  Negro  Charley 
Tyler  himself  shot  four  Indians,  a  report  sent 
to  Los  Angeles  gave  the  total  Indian  strength  in 
the  fight  as  40  and  said  that  their  dead  numbered 






During  this  time  the  Owens  Valley  Indians  had 
sent  calls  for  aid  to  all  their  people.  Nevada 
Piutes  had  suffered  severely  in  a  recent  war  of 
their  own,  and  the  majority  were  not  inclined  to 
hunt  further  trouble.  They  had  realized  the  truth 
of  predictions  attributed  to  Numaga,  one  of  their 
leaders.  While  it  is  a  digression  from  the  im- 
mediate subject,  the  speech  credited  to  Numaga 
in  trying  to  keep  his  braves  from  the  warpath  is 
worth  preserving: 

"You  would  make  war  upon  the  whites.  I  ask  you  to 
pause  and  reflect.  The  white  men  are  like  the  stars  over  your 
heads.  You  have  wrongs,  great  wrongs,  that  rise  up  like  these 
mountains  before  you;  but  can  you  from  the  mountain  tops 
reach  up  and  blot  out  those  stars'?  Your  enemies  are  like 
the  sands  in  the  beds  of  your  rivers:  when  taken  away  they 
only  give  place  for  more  to  come  and  settle  here.  Could  you 
defeat  the  whites,  from  over  the  mountains  in  California 
would  come  to  help  them  an  army  of  white  men  that  would 
cover  your  country  like  a  blanket.  What  hope  is  there  for 
the  Piute?  From  where  is  to  come  your  g-uns,  your  powder, 
your  lead,  your  dried  meats  to  live  upon,  and  hay  to  feed 
your  ponies  while  you  carry  on  this  war?    Your  enemies  have 



all  these  things,  more  than  they  can  use.  They  will  come  like 
the  sand  in  a  whirlwind,  and  drive  you  from  your  homes.  You 
will  be  forced  among  the  barren  rocks  of  the  north,  where 
your  ponies  will  die,  where  you  will  see  the  women  and  old 
men  starve,  and  listen  to  the  cries  of  your  children 'for  food. 
I  love  my  people;  let  them  live;  and  when  their  spirits  shall 
be  called  to  the  great  camp  in  the  southern  sky,  let  their  bones 
rest  where  their  fathers  were  buried." 

But  in  spite  of  advice,  some  came  from  the 
Nevada  tribes  to  venture  further  in  warfare.  More 
came  from  the  west,  across  the  Sierras,  from  the 
Kern  and  Tulare  bands  that  had  been  but  re- 
cently defeated,  and  from  southern  California. 
Some,  like  Joaquin  Jim  who  was  already  an 
Owens  Valley  leader,  had  been  outlawed  by  their 
own  people.  Jim  was  a  Fresno  renegade,  a  man 
of  unusual  courage  and  determination,  and  he  was 
never  reconciled  to  white  rule.  The  gathered  In- 
dian host  in  Owens  Valley  was  estimated  at  from 
1,500  to  2,000  fighting  men. 

The  Reds  found  allies  in  the  mining  camp  of 
Aurora,  in  the  persons  of  two  merchants  named 
Wingate  and  Cohn,  who  were  said  to  have  carried 
on  a  thriving  traffic  in  supplying  ammunition  for 
what  guns  the  western  Nevada  and  Mono  Indians 
had.  The  same  Wingate  refused  to  sell  ammuni- 
tion to  a  messenger  from  the  settlers,  saying  that 
ail  the  whites  in  Owens  Valley  should  be  killed. 

Al  Thompson  and  a  companion  were  sent  to 
Aurora  for  help  for  the  threatened  settlers.  A 
party  of  eighteen  was  organized  there,  com- 
manded by  Capt.  John  J.  Kellogg,  a  former  army 
officer.  One  of  its  members  was  Alney  L.  McGee, 
who  had  gone  to  Aurora  from  the  valley. 

108  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

After  the  Lone  Pine  battle  the  citizens  at  Put- 
nam's had  elected  Mayfield  their  captain.  Ac- 
counts of  the  expedition  next  starting  from  there 
-do  not  agree,  ranging  from  twenty-two  to  thirty- 
five;  the  best  supported  estimate  seems  to  be 
thirty-three.  This  force  moved  northerly  to  at- 
tack the  Indians.  At  Big  Pine  they  found  the 
bodies  of  R.  Hanson  and  Tallman  (or  Townsend), 
who  had  been  killed  by  the  Indians  a  few  days  be- 
fore. Both  corpses  had  been  torn  and  mutilated 
by  coyotes,  and  that  of  Hanson  (a  brother  of  A.  C. 
Hanson,  one  of  the  expedition  and  in  later  years 
County  Judge)  was  identified  by  the  teeth. 

Kellogg  came  down  east  of  the  river,  the  same 
day.  He  believed  the  Mayfield  command,  which 
could  be  seen  across  the  valley,  to  be  hostiles.  The 
mistake  was  straightened  out  and  the  two  com- 
mands united.  All  night  long  the  hostiles  oc- 
cupied the  rock-strewn  hillsides  near  by,  and  kept 
up  a  continuous  howling.  The  next  day,  as  the 
force  moved  northward,  an  Indian  scout  was  killed 
by  Tex  Berry.  Dr.  A.  H.  Mitchell,  who  proved 
to  be  an  abject  coward  in  the  later  fight,  acted 
consistently  with  that  character  by  scalping  the 
Indian  and  tying  the  bloodj^  trophy  to  his  saddle. 
He  afterward  lost  horse,  saddle  and  all.  About 
noon  of  April  6th  camp  was  made  at  a  ditch  or  ra- 
vine about  two  miles  southwest  of  the  present 
town  of  Bishop. 

The  Indians  held  a  line  extending  from  a  small 
black  butte  in  the  valley  across  Bishop  Creek  and 
to  the  foothills  south.  Their  numbers  were 
variously  estimated  at  from  500  to  1,500.    Oppos- 


ing  them  was  a  white  force  of  from  fifty  to  sixty- 
three  men. 

The  Piutes  were  defiant  in  their  demonstra- 
tions, and  the  white  men  waited  only  long  enough 
to  eat  a  meal  before  going  into  action.  Kellogg 's 
force  moved  up  along  the  creek;  Mayfield  took 
his  men  more  southerly.  A  deep  wash  was  en- 
countered, and  the  pack  animals  were  left  there 
with  a  man  in  charge.  Mayfield,  Morrison  and 
Van  Fleet  were  at  the  head  of  the  line  when  the 
Indians  opened  fire.  Van  Fleet  dismounted  and 
handed  his  bridle  to  Mayfield.  A  bullet  pene- 
trated Morrison's  body,  and  Mayfield,  not  seeing 
his  men  coming  up,  became  panic-stricken  and 
would  have  fled  leaving  Van  Fleet  afoot  if  he  had 
not  been  threatened  with  summary  vengeance. 

Kellogg  saw  that  the  Indians  were  about  to 
move  around  and  either  cut  off  the  line  of  re- 
treat or  separate  the  two  parties  of  whites.  In 
response  to  his  call  for  a  volunteer  to  warn  May- 
field,  Alney  McGee  made  the  ride,  during  which 
his  horse  was  kiUed. 

The  white  men  then  retreated  to  the  shelter  of 
the  ditch.  Morrison  was  put  in  front  of  Bart 
McGee,  on  the  latter 's  horse,  and  with  Alney  Mc- 
Gee steadying  him  was  taken  to  the  trench. 
''Cage,"  or  James  Pleasant,  a  dairyman  who 
had  come  from  Visalia,  was  in  front  of  them. 
They  happened  to  be  looking  directly  at  him  when 
a  bullet  hole  appeared  in  the  light  gum  coat  he 
wore.  He  did  not  reply  to  a  question  asked,  but 
rose  in  his  stirrups  and  fell  from  his  horse,  dead. 
The  situation  was  so  pressing  that  for  the  time 
the  bodv  was  left  where  it  fell. 

110  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

Anderson  collected  some  of  the  men  at  a  small 
hill  and  kept  the  foe  back  until  Morrison  could  be 
taken  to  a  safer  place.  As  the  men  went  back, 
an  Indian  wearing  only  some  feathers  in  his  hair 
was  seen  going  toward  the  pack  train.  It  was 
suggested  to  Hanson  that  there  was  his  chance  to 
get  revenge  for  his  brother's  death,  and  Hanson 
and  Tyler  rode  out  and  killed  the  too  venturesome 
red  man.  The  latter 's  costume  was  similar  to 
what  a  great  many  of  the  warriors  were  wearing 
at  the  time.  ''The  uniforms  they  wore  was 
nawthin'  much  before,  an'  rawther  less  than  'arf 
o'  that  be'ind." 

The  whites  reached  the  ditch  intrenchment 
without  further  casualties,  and  from  there  main- 
tained a  defensive  battle.  One  veteran  of  the 
fight  stated  that  "Stock"  Eobinson  killed  an  In- 
dian who  was  crawling  through  the  ditch  to  get 
at  close  quarters  with  the  defenders.  One  Indian 
had  a  point  of  vantage  behind  a  pile  of  grass  from 
which  he  fired  several  shots.  He  was  killed  by 
Van  Fleet,  who  watched  for  his  rising  to  shoot. 
Mitchell,  who  had  distinguished  himself  by  scalp- 
ing the  Indian  scout  killed  on  the  way  up  the 
valley,  proposed  that  all  make  a  run  for  safety. 
Anderson,  knowing  that  if  that  were  done  the 
whole  party  would  be  exterminated,  said  he  would 
shoot  the  first  man  who  left  them  to  run.  Mitchell 
then  bravely  proclaimed  his  own  intention  of  tak- 
ing a  shot  at  any  one  who  would  exhibit  such  mis- 
erable cowardice. 

The  whites  had  spread  out  some  of  their 
powder  to  have  it  handy  for  loading  purposes. 


Some  one  struck  a  match  which  fell  into  it,  and 
one  man  was  severely  burned  in  the  explosion 
which  followed. 

Darkness  came  on,  and  firing  from  th'e  Indian 
lines  almost  ceased.  N.  F.  Scott,  Sheriff  of  Mono, 
who  had  come  from  Putnam's  with  the  Mayfield 
party,  raised  his  head  above  the  ditch  rim  as  he 
undertook  to  light  his  pipe.  As  he  did  an  Indian 
bullet  struck  him  in  the  temple,  causing  instant 
death.  He  had  come  into  the  valley  on  official 
business  a  short  time  before. 

The  beleaguered  whites  waited  until  the  moon 
went  down,  well  along  in  the  night,  before  making 
a  move.  Then  they  retreated  to  Big  Pine,  un- 
molested. Morrison  was  taken  with  them,  but 
died  soon  after  reaching  Big  Pine  Creek.  This 
brought  the  white  dead  up  to  three.  The  number 
of  Indians  who  fell  was  unknown,  but  was  vari- 
ously estimated  at  from  five  to  fifteen  or  more.  A 
report  published  soon  afterward  said  that  eleven 
Indians  were  killed.  The  fatalities  in  this  affair, 
as  in  nearly  every  case  during  the  fighting,  re- 
sulted from  bullet  wounds.  Indian  arrows  did 
little  harm  except  at  close  quarters.  Fortunately 
for  their  opponents  the  Indians  had  but  few  guns, 
and  were  too  ignorant  of  their  care  and  use  to 
make  them  very  effective.  Had  Piutes  possessed 
any  marked  degree  of  courage  they  could  have 
wiped  out  the  little  company  of  white  men,  though 
of  course  it  would  have  been  at  a  heavy  cost  to 

The  men,  who  were  in  this  fight,  so  far  as 
ascertained  from  different  records,  included  Har- 

112  THE    STORY    OF   INYO 

rison  Morrison,  "Cage"  Pleasant  and  N.  F.  Scott, 
who  were  killed;  Captain  Mayfield,  Charles 
Anderson,  Alney  McGee,  Barton  McGree,  A.  Van 
Fleet,  A.  C.  Hanson,  Thos.  G.  Beasley,  R.  E. 
Phelps,  E.  P.  Robinson,  John  Welch,  Thomas 
Hubbard,  Thomas  Passmore,  William  L.  Moore, 
A.  Graves,  James  Harness,  John  Shea,  — .  Bo- 
land,  Pete  Wilson,  L.  F.  Cralley,  Tex  Berry, 
James  Palmer,  A.  H.  Mitchell,  ** Negro"  Charley 
Tyler,  a  Tejon  Indian,  and  others  unrecorded. 

No  two  of  the  several  accounts  of  this  fight 
agree  in  all  respects ;  the  versions  having  the  most 
corroboration  of  fact  or  probability  have  been  ac- 







Enters  now  into  these  chronicles  the  nation's 
soldiery,  also  one  Warren  Wasson,  acting  Indian 
Agent  for  the  Territory  of  Nevada. 

Through  news  reaching  Carson  by  way  of 
Aurora,  Wasson  learned  of  the  beginning  of 
trouble  in  Owens  Valley.  Under  date  of  March 
25,  1862,  he  telegraphed  to  James  W.  Nye,  Gov- 
ernor of  Nevada,  who  was  then  in  San  Francisco. 

"Indian  diflfieulties  on  Owens  River  confirmed.  Hostiles 
advancing  this  way.  I  desire  to  go  and  if  possible  prevent  the 
war  from  reaching  this  territory.  If  a  few  men  poorly  armed 
go  against  those  Indians  defeat  will  follow  and  a  long  and 
bloody  war  will  ensue.  If  the  whites  on  Owens  River  had 
prompt  and  adequate  assistance  it  could  be  checked  there.  I 
have  just  returned  from  Walker  River.  Piutes  alarmed.  I 
await  reply." 

Governor  Nye  promptly  conferred  with  Gen- 
eral Wright,  commanding  the  Department  of  the 
Pacific,  and  on  the  same  day  notified  Wasson  to 
the  following  effect: 

"General  Wright  will  order  50  men  to  go  with  you  to  the 
ecene  of  action.  You  may  take  50  of  my  muskets  at  the  fort, 
and  some  ammunition  with  you,  and  bring  them  back.  Confer 
with  Captain  Rowe." 


114  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

It  will  be  observed  that  the  Governor  was  care- 
ful of  the  property  under  his  charge.  Presumably 
the  guns  were  for  the  arming  of  settlers  in  the 

Captain  E.  A.  Eowe,  of  Company  A,  Second 
California  Cavalry,  was  ranking  officer  and  com- 
mander at  Fort  Churchill,  Nevada.  AVasson  im- 
mediately visited  him,  and  the  result  was  an  order 
to  Lieutenant  Herman  Noble  to  take  fifty  men  to 
''Aurora  and  vicinity."  ''You  will  be  governed 
by  circumstances,  in  a  great  measure,"  his  in- 
structions read,  "but  upon  all  occasions  it  is  de- 
sirable that  you  consult  the  Indian  Agent,  Mr. 
W.  Wasson,  who  accompanies  the  expedition  for 
the  purpose  of  restraining  the  Indians  from  hos- 
tilities. Upon  no  consideration  will  you  allow 
your  men  to  engage  the  Indians  without  his 

Wasson  came  on  ahead  of  the  troops.  He 
found  the  Walker  Eiver  Indians  greatly  excited, 
and  apprehensive  of  general  war  with  the  whites. 
He  sent  messengers  to  the  different  bands  of 
Piutes  in  that  region,  with  instructions  to  keep 
quiet  until  his  return.  The  mass  of  the  natives 
were  anxious  to  keep  out  of  trouble,  and  he  found 
all  quiet  when  he  w^ent  back. 

A  Piute  named  Robert  accompanied  him  to 
Mono  Lake,  where  the  Indians  were  congregated 
and  preparing  for  a  war  they  feared.  They  were 
much  pleased  with  his  mission,  and  sent  with 
him  one  of  their  number  who  could  speak  the 
Owens  River  Piute  dialect. 

Wasson  and  his  interpreters  joined  Noble's 


column  at  Adobe  Meadows  on  the  night  of  April 
4th.  The  next  day  he  traveled  eight  or  ten  miles 
ahead  of  the  soldiers,  and  about  noon  passed  the 
boundary  of  the  Owens  Eiver  Piute  territory. 
On  the  night  of  the  6th  camp  was  made  at  the 
northerly  crossing  of  Owens  Eiver.  At  that  very 
hour  the  Mayfield  and  Kellogg  companies  were 
defending  themselves  in  the  trench  near  Bishop 
Creek.  Wasson  saw  no  Indians,  but  plenty  of 
fresh  signs.  On  the  following  morning  the  Mono 
Indian  said  that  he  knew  the  Indians  were  to  the 
right  and  up  the  valley.  He  was  sent  to  inter- 
view them,  with  a  message  that  the  purpose  of 
the  mission  was  to  inquire  into  the  cause  of  the 
difficulties  and  to  arrange  a  fair  settlement. 

Wasson  and  the  Walker  River  Indian  went  on 
south.  After  going  twelve  miles  down  the  river 
they  saw  a  body  of  men  at  the  foot  of  the  Sierras 
and  waited  until  Noble  came  up.  Lieutenant 
Noble  and  Wasson  then  left  the  cavalry  and  went 
across  the  valley  to  learn  who  the  men  were. 
They  found  the  citizens  who  had  retreated  from 
Bishop  Creek,  together  with  troopers  of  the 
Second  California  Cavalry  under  Lieutenant 
Colonel  George  S.  Evans.  Evans  had  left  Los 
Angeles  March  19th,  and  shortened  the  trip  to 
Owens  Valley  by  keeping  to  the  east  of  the  Sierras 
instead  of  going  into  the  San  Joaquin  Valley  and 
crossing  Walker's  Pass,  as  seems  to  have  been  the 
invariable  route  before  then.  This  appears  to  have 
been  the  first  travel  on  the  route  now  used  south 
of  Walker's  Pass.  He  arrived  at  Owens  Lake 
April   2d.     He   found  a  dozen  men  and  a  few 

116  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

women  and  children  at  Putnam's  ''fort."  Leav- 
ing Captain  Winne  and  seven  soldiers  there, 
Evans  moved  on  up  the  valley  with  seventy-three 
men  and  met  the  Mayfield-Kellogg  men  near  Big 

Wasson  made  his  mission  known,  but  found 
little  encouragement  for  peaceful  hopes.  The 
larger  force  wished  only  to  exterminate  the  hos- 
tiles.  When  Mayfield  met  the  cavalry,  Evans  had 
induced  forty-five  of  the  citizens  to  turn  back 
northward  with  his  company,  the  rest  being  sent 
on  to  Putnam's. 

The  meeting  with  the  contingent  from  Nevada 
occurred  about  six  miles  south  of  Bishop  Creek. 
Evans,  being  the  ranking  officer,  directed  Noble 
to  bring  up  his  company.  When  this  was  done  the 
force  moved  to  and  camped  at  the  scene  of  the 
previous  day's  fighting.  The  body  of  Pleasant, 
left  in  the  flight  of  the  citizens,  was  found,  shock- 
ingly mutilated.  All  his  clothing  had  been  taken 
for  Indian  use.  The  body,  wrapped  in  a  blanket, 
was  buried.  It  may  be  noted  that  when  circum- 
stances favored  the  Piutes  again  dug  up  the  re- 
mains and  took  therefrom  the  blanket  shrouding 
them.  Once  more  the  whites  made  a  grave  for 
Pleasant,  at  a  point  a  little  east  of  the  San  Francis 
ranch.  Search  in  later  years  failed  to  discover 
the  place  of  its  final  interment.  Pleasant  Valley, 
a  small  subdivision  of  Owens  Valley,  was  named 
for  this  victim  of  the  war.  The  body  of  Scott, 
buried  in  the  trench  the  night  of  the  retreat,  was 

Evans  started  scouting  parties  in  different  di- 


rections  at  daylight  of  the  8th.  Eight  or  ten  men 
who  had  gone  northwesterly  returned  about  noon 
and  reported  having  found  the  enemy  in  force 
twelve  miles  to  the  northwest,  in  what  is  now 
called  Round  Valley,  A  rapid  movement  in  that 
direction  was  ordered,  and  in  two  hours  the 
soldiers  and  citizens  reached  the  mouth  of  the 
canyon  in  which  the  Indians  were  believed  to  be. 
A  heavy  snowstorm  had  begun  there,  and  a  strong 
gale  swept  down  from  the  summits.  Evans 
ordered  an  advance,  sending  Lieutenants  Noble 
and  Oliver  up  one  ridge  with  forty  men  while  he 
and  Lieutenant  French,  with  an  equal  number, 
took  the  opposite  wall  of  the  canyon.  Wasson 
criticizes  the  wisdom  of  this  plan,  as  the  gale,  all 
in  favor  of  the  Lidians,  would  have  given  them  a 
strong  advantage.  The  pursued  foes  had  gone 
on,  however,  and  no  Indians  were  found.  The 
troops  returned  to  the  valley  below. 

The  storm  abating  somewhat,  Wasson  did 
some  investigating  for  himself,  and  discovered 
Indian  signs  in  a  canyon  a  mile  to  the  north  of 
the  camp.  Following  it,  he  came  upon  a  fresh 
trail  leading  northerly.  At  a  point  over  two  miles 
from  the  command  he  turned  back.  As  he  started 
back,  he  heard  a  call  from  rocks  a  few  hundred 
yards  away.  He  replied,  in  English,  Spanish  and 
Piute,  but  got  no  response.  This  performance  was 
repeated  several  times  as  he  rode  toward  camp; 
he  believed  it  to  be  an  effort  to  decoy  him.  That 
night  campfires  were  visible  in  the  canyon. 

The  next  morning  Evans  ordered  Lieutenant 
Noble  and  nine  of  his  men  to  reconnoiter  the  can- 

118  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

yon,  while  the  whole  command  moved  in  that  di- 
rection. The  detail  was  fired  upon  after  it  had 
advanced  some  300  yards  into  the  canyon. 
Trooper  Christopher  Grillespie  was  instantly 
killed  and  Corporal  John  Harries  was  wounded 
in  the  left  arm.  Gillespie's  body  was  left  behind 
in  the  retreat,  but  was  afterward  recovered.  A 
published  report  mentioned  the  killing  of  a  Ser- 
geant McKenzie,  but  this  is  not  confirmed  by  the 
military  report. 

The  main  command  was  half  a  mile  below  the 
mouth  of  the  canyon.  The  cavalrymen  were  dis- 
mounted, and  Noble  and  his  company  were  sent 
to  occupy  the  mountain  side  at  the  left,  or  south, 
side,  Mayfield  and  four  other  citizens  accompany- 
ing them.  Evans  was  to  take  the  north  side  of 
the  canyon,  and  the  citizens  not  with  Noble  were 
to  remain  at  its  mouth.  Noble  reached  his 
designated  position,  and  drew  a  brisk  fire  from 
two  directions.  Mayfield  was  wounded,  and 
Noble,  seeing  that  to  hold  his  position  would 
probably  mean  heavy  loss,  ordered  a  retreat. 
Mayfield  was  being  carried  back  when  a  bullet 
passed  between  the  legs  of  citizen  John  Welch 
and  inflicted  a  fatal  wound  on  the  already  injured 
citizen  captain.  John  A.  Hubinger,  bugler,  later 
a  physician  in  Pasadena,  was  surrounded  by  In- 
dians, and  a  bullet  grazed  his  ear,  but  he  made 
good  his  escape. 

Evans  found  that  the  mountain  side  was  too 
rugged  and  steep  to  permit  the  advance  he  had 
planned  for  his  company,  and  he  also  ordered  a 
retreat,  not  only  from  the  immediate  vicinity  but 


back  into  Owens  Valley.  Before  the  soldiers  had 
gone  a  mile  and  a  half  the  camp  ground  they  had 
occupied  was  dotted  with  Indian  campfires. 

Wasson's  report,  dated  April  20,  18*62,  gives 
little  credit  to  Evans  for  his  management  of  the 
affair.    He  wrote :  « 

"During  the  engagement  I  selected  a  high  rock  at  about 
the  center  of  the  operations,  where  I  could  observe  all  parties, 
and  I  am  satisfied  there  were  not  over  25  Indians  who  had 
been  left  behind  as  a  decoy  to  the  whites  and  to  protect 
the  main  body  and  families,  who  had  gone  on  into  the  moun- 
tains to  the  north  to  avoid  a  collision  with  the  troops.  .  .  . 
Lieutenant  Noble  confeiTed  with  me  and  we  agreed  as  to  the 
course  to  be  pursued,  until  we  met  Col.  Evans,  who  then  took 
command.  This  reinforcement  rained  all  our  plans.  We 
might  have  done  better;  we  certainly  could  not  have  done 
worse.  Lieutenant  Noble  and  his  men  behaved  gallantly  on 
the  field." 

In  referring  to  the  Bishop  Creek  fight  of  April 
6th,  Wasson  says  the  citizens  had  been  "shame- 
fully defeated."  That  is,  after  starting  a  cam- 
paign against  from  ten  to  thirty  times  their 
number,  the  white  command  had  been  forced  to 
retreat.  If  to  abandon  that  undertaking  were 
*' shameful,"  what  shall  be  said  of  the  result  in 
Round  Valley?  Evans  had  under  him  a  force  of 
more  than  150  men,  of  whom  more  than  100  were 
soldiers.  After  a  skirmish,  he  abandoned  the 
whole  attempt,  without  discovering  anything 
about  how  many  or  how  few  foes  he  had  engaged. 
The  sole  result  of  his  campaigning  was  to  increase 
the  confidence  of  the  Indians,  as  Wasson  had  fore- 
told, and  to  add  to  the  probability  of  other  out- 

120  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

Evans  camped  that  night  on  the  Bishop  Creek 
battleground.  He  had  no  provisions  except  what 
he  procured  in  the  valley — a  singular  condition 
which  he  attributed  to  his  having  distributed  sup- 
plies to  needy  settlers — and  was  compelled  to  re- 
turn to  Camp  Drum.  Lieutenant  Noble  accom- 
panied him  as  far  as  Putnam's,  to  escort  the  set- 
tlers from  the  valley  with  their  herds  and  flocks. 
The  latter  included  4,000  head  of  cattle  and  2,500 
sheep.  Among  the  men  who  left  at  that  time  were 
the  McGees,  who  met  Indians,  but  were  not 
molested.    A  general  exodus  took  place. 

Wasson  appears  to  have  had  not  only  much 
sympathy  with  the  Indians  in  their  pathetic  resist- 
ance to  the  inevitable  white  domination,  but  a  bias 
that  led  to  occasional  overstatement.  He  assured 
Governor  Nye  that  they  ''had  dug  ditches  and  ir- 
rigated nearly  all  the  arable  land  in  that  section 
of  the  country,  and  live  by  its  products."  The 
products  were  the  native  plants,  irrigated  to  a 
limited  extent  and  not  cultivated  at  all.  We 
quote  him  further: 

"They  have  been  repeatedly  told  by  officers  of  the  govern- 
ment that  they  should  have  exclusive  possession  of  these  lands, 
and  they  are  now  fighting  to  obtain  that  possession.  .  .  . 
Having  taken  up  their  abode  along  Owens  River  as  a  place 
of  last  resort,  they  will  fight  to  the  last  extremity  in  defense 
of  their  homes." 





By  the  first  of  May,  1862,  the  Indians  were  in 
almost  undisputed  possession  of  the  whole  of 
Owens  Valley.  Occasional  venturesome  travelers 
fared  badly.  Harvey  C.  Ladd  had  left  San  Ber- 
nardino two  months  earlier  with  his  family, 
wagons  and  stock,  and  lost  all  his  possessions,  the 
persons  being  fortunate  enough  to  escape.  Alex- 
ander Godey,  ex-scout  and  at  that  time  Indian 
Agent,  noted  a  report  that  a  man  named  Pete  Abel 
and  thirteen  or  fourteen  others  had  been  mas- 
sacred, one  man  alone  escaping  to  tell  the  tale. 
The  party  had  four  wagons  loaded  with  pro- 
visions, and  45  horses.  They  were  besieged  in  a 
corral  which  they  formed  with  their  wagons,  and 
in  an  attempt  to  escape  all  but  one  lost  their 
lives.  Another  party  of  six  were  all  killed.  In- 
formation given  in  Los  Angeles  was  that  the  In- 
dians had  acquired  a  hundred  rifles  among  them; 
that  there  were  from  1,000  to  1,200  fighting  men 
in  the  valley ;  that  a  thousand  head  of  cattle  had 
been  stolen  or  killed  by  them,  and  that  practically 


122  THE    STOKY    OP   INYO 

every  white  habitation  on  the  eastern  side  of  the 
Sierras  north  of  Walker's  Pass  had  been  de- 

Miners  in  the  Coso  region  were  still  at  work, 
nevertheless,  but  under  such  dangerous  conditions 
that  the  miners  appealed  to  the  military  author- 
ities at  the  San  Francisco  Presidio  for  protection. 
Hitchens,  of  Hitchens  &  Montgomery,  of  Coso, 
made  his  way  out  on  this  mission.  His  accounts 
of  the  condition  were  far  more  extreme  than  what 
appears  in  these  pages.  He  stated  also  that  there 
was  a  quantity  of  mill  machinery  at  Walker's  Pass 
to  be  taken  to  Coso  when  it  became  safe. 

General  Andres  Pico,  in  Los  Angeles,  sought 
permission  to  organize  an  independent  expedition 
against  the  Indians.  Volunteers  for  his  proposed 
forces  were  numerous  enough,  but  it  appears  that 
the  Governor  refused  him  the  desired  permission. 

A  letter  purporting  to  come  "from  citizens 
residing  in  the  vicinity  of  Owens  River"  reached 
the  authorities,  asking  that  no  steps  be  taken  for 
the  establishment  of  a  military  post;  that  if  the 
soldiers  would  come  and  clear  out  the  valley,  giv- 
ing the  whites  possession,  the  latter  would  take 
care  of  themselves.  The  communication  was  be- 
lieved to  have  originated  with  designing  plun- 
derers. A  Los  Angeles  paper  said  that  to  send  out 
the  expedition  for  only  60  days  would  cost  $100,- 
000,  and  called  for  a  public  meeting  to  urge  the 
establishment  of  a  military  post  in  Owens  Valley. 

Whatever  the  motive  for  the  alleged  protest,  it 
was  unheeded,  and  General  Wright  directed 
Colonel  Evans  to  prepare  for  the  ''Mono  and 
Owens  River  Military  Expedition." 


During  May  Captain  Rowe,  from  Fort 
Churchill,  Nevada,  had  a  conference  with  the 
Mono  Lake  Indians,  after  an  interpreter  had  in- 
duced them  to  hold  a  parley.  The  red  men  were 
found  to  be  sullen  and  not  caring  whether  peace 
was  made  or  was  not.  They  said  as  many  whites 
as  Indians  had  been  killed  and  while  they  were 
satisfied,  they  were  perfectly  willing  to  continue 
the  war. 

Evans  started  from  Fort  Latham,  between  Los 
Angeles  and  Santa  Monica,  June  12th,  with  157 
men,  including  Company  Gr  and  detachments  from 
Companies  D  and  I  of  his  regiment,  the  Second 
California  Cavalry.  Captain  Winne,  who  had 
commanded  Gr  Company  on  the  first  trip  into 
Owens  Valley,  had  committed  suicide  in  a  Los 
Angeles  hotel,  while  mentally  deranged,  and  T. 
H.  Goodman  had  replaced  him  in  command.  The 
cavalrymen  made  camp  on  Oak  Creek  on  July  4, 
1862;  erected  a  50-foot  flagstaff,  raised  the  flag 
and  fired  small-arm  salutes,  gave  three  times 
three  cheers,  and  otherwise  departed  from  the 
daily  routine.  Because  of  the  day,  the  site  se- 
lected by  Colonel  Evans  was  named  Camp  Inde- 
pendence. The  soldiers  immediately  began  to 
provide  shelters  for  themselves,  some  building 
cabins  and  some  digging  out  caves  in  the  walls 
of  a  large  ravine  near  by. 

John  C.  Willett,  for  many  years  a  resident 
near  Independence,  was  a  saddler  with  Company 
Gr.  In  a  letter  written  in  1903  he  stated  that  when 
the  soldiers  reached  the  foot  of  Owens  Lake  they 
were  instructed  to  kill  all  the  Indians  they  saw. 
One  Indian  was  slain  at  the  lake. 

124  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

Captain  George  was  met  at  the  Alabama  Mils, 
bearing  a  flag  of  truce  and  a  letter  from  Indian 
Agent  Wasson  directing  a  cessation  of  hostilities, 
as  he  believed  that  a  peace  could  be  arranged. 

During  July,  Wasson  was  called  from  Carson 
to  confer  with  Governor  Stanford,  General  Wright 
and  J.  P.  H.  Wentworth,  Indian  Agent  for  the 
Southern  District  of  California,  regarding  the 
Owens  Valley  situation.  He  was  directed  to  col- 
lect the  Indians  at  Camp  Independence,  to  which 
point  Wentworth  was  to  come  with  presents  and 
to  make  a  treaty.  In  the  meantime  Captain 
Rowe's  command  had  come  into  the  valley  from 
the  north  and  made  camp  east  of  the  river,  op- 
posite Camp  Independence.  A  powwow  was  held 
there  July  5th,  and  a  temporary  peace  was  made 
with  the  Indian  leaders.  No  friction  was  reported 
during  the  summer,  though  a  letter  written  at  the 
time  said:  ''The  Indians  feign  friendship,  but 
show  what  they  would  do  but  for  the  troops." 

Wentworth  left  San  Francisco  in  September, 
going  by  steamer  to  San  Pedro.  From  there  he 
went  to  Fort  Tejon  and  secured  the  aid  of  Alex 
Godey  as  interpreter  and  guide.  They  brought  a 
quantity  of  presents  and  provisions  for  the  na- 
tives. Runners  were  sent  to  the  different  ranch- 
erias  and  bands,  and  in  response  many  Piutes 
gathered  for  a  council.  The  Indians  asked  only 
that  the  government  give  them  protection  and 
means  of  support.  They  were  assured  of  the  folly 
of  war,  and  were  told  that  while  good  conduct 
would  be  rewarded,  rebellion  would  insure  punish- 
ment.    On  October  6th  a  treaty  was  made,  and 


was  celebrated  by  the  Indians  with  a  fandango. 
Chief  George  remained  at  the  fort  as  a  hostage 
for  the  good  conduct  of  his  people.  While  these 
events  were  transpiring,  other  factors  •  were  at 
work  leading  to  renewed  trouble ;  but  on  the  sur- 
face at  the  time,  Owens  Valley  had  passed  to 
the  control  of  the  whites  within  a  few  months  of 
the  time  when  they  had  been  driven  from  it. 

Miners  had  been  at  work  at  Coso  more  or  less 
continuously  during  all  the  troubles  in  the  valley. 
Twenty  arrastras  were  at  work,  and  rich  ore  was 
being  taken  out.  A  report  in  a  Los  Angeles  paper 
in  July,  in  1862,  told  of  the  arrival  of  a  Dr.  Bag- 
ley  with  twenty-six  pounds  of  gold  from  the 

During  the  summer  ''Lake  City"  was  laid  out 
near  Owens  Lake,  by  T.  F.  A.  Connelly  and  W. 
B.  Lilly.  A  few  small  shanties  were  erected,  and 
proved  to  be  the  full  extent  of  the  ''city."  Other 
occurrences  of  the  summer  included  the  beginning 
of  work  at  the  Eclipse  mine,  under  R.  S.  Whig- 
ham  as  superintendent,  and  the  bringing  in,  via 
Walker's  Pass,  of  machinery  for  a  quartz  mill  at 
Coso.    T.  F.  A.  Connelly  did  this  freighting. 

A  prospecting  soldier  found  free  gold  ore  in 
the  range  east  of  Independence.  It  was  sent  to 
San  Francisco,  and  immediately  caused  the  organ- 
ization of  the  San  Carlos  Mining  and  Exploration 
Company.  On  September  24th  Henry  G.  Hanks, 
James  Hutchings  of  Yosemite  Valley  note,  and 
Captain  Corcoran  left  the  city  as  representatives 
of  the  company,  to  investigate  the  ledge  from 
which  the  specimens  had  come.     They  outfitted 


126  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

in  Stockton,  and  crossed  the  Sierras  at  Bloody 
Canyon,  near  Mono  Lake.  In  passing  through 
Yosemite  they  gave  to  Cathedral  Spires  the  name 
now  borne  by  that  bit  of  scenic  grandenr.  Their 
route  was  via  Monoville  and  Aurora,  and  at  the 
latter  place  they  were  joined  by  George  K.  Phil- 
lips. Coming  southward,  they  passed  Bodie, 
where  some  prospecting  was  going  on.  At  Hot 
Springs  they  saw  the  riddled  cabin  in  which  Tay- 
lor had  been  killed  by  the  Indians  some  months  be- 
fore. On  October  24th,  a  month  from  the  day  of 
starting,  they  made  camp  three  miles  northeast 
of  Camp  Independence. 

A  rich  galena  vein  was  found  the  following 
day,  within  a  mile  of  the  camp,  and  the  Romelia 
claim  was  located  on  it.  Hanks,  assayer  for  the 
party,  tested  the  ore  under  difficulties.  When  the 
work  was  nearly  done,  he  related,  a  dog  upset  the 
balances  and  spilled  the  small  buttons  of  metal.  A 
long  search  failed  to  bring  the  missing  buttons  to 
light,  and  the  prospect  was  that  the  laborious 
process  would  have  to  be  repeated,  when  some 
one  suggested  that  the  missing  material  might 
have  fallen  into  the  dog's  fur.  The  canine  was 
given  a  combing,  the  buttons  were  found,  and 
ascertained  to  show  a  richness  of  ore  that  highly 
encouraged  the  men. 

News  of  the  find  created  strong  interest  in 
San  Francisco.  Companies  and  stocks  were 
plentiful,  and  parties  of  prospectors  headed  for 
the  new  bonanza.  San  Carlos  camp  became  a  busy 
little  place  the  following  year. 

While  these  happenings  forecasted  the  ulti- 


mate  occupation  of  Owens  Valley  by  white  people, 
officialdom  had,  just  before,  remembered  the 
earlier  intention  of  establishing  an  Indian  reser- 
vation. Senator  Latham  introduced  his  bill  to 
sell  the  reservation  lands  in  the  southern  part  of 
the  State  and  move  their  populations  to  Owens 
Valley.  Agent  Wentworth  made  strong  objec- 
tions; that  his  objections  served  the  purpose  is 
sufficient  without  quibbling  at  these  reasons  he 
set  forth  in  a  report  dated  August  30,  1862 : 

"The  scheme  is  utterly  impracticable.  In  my  department 
there  are  16,000  Indians,  and  Owens  River  Valley,  cultivated 
in  the  most  skillful  manner,  with  all  the  modem  improve- 
ments, by  intelligent  white  labor,  would  not  support  that  popu- 
lation. How  then  would  it  be  possible  for  the  numerous 
tribes,  strangers  to  each  other  and  comparatively  ig-norant  of 
the  first  principles  of  agricultural  pursuits,  to  sustain  them- 
selves on  such  a  reservation?  The  narrow  valley  of  Owens 
River  is  only,  at  this  time,  suiRcient  for  the  very  small  num- 
ber of  Indians,  1500  by  census,  who  at  present  occupy  and 
inhabit  it,  and  the  cause  of  the  war  now  waged  there  is 
the  desperation  of  the  Indians  because  of  the  fact  that  the 
emigration  to  the  mines  has  destroyed  the  grass  seed  upon 
which  they,  in  a  large  measure,  had  been  accustomed  to  sub- 
sist. .  .  .  The  war  there  has  already  cost  the  Govern- 
ment more  than  $90,000.  If  the  Committee  on  Indian  Affairs 
had  responded  promptly  to  the  estimate  which  I  made  last 
winter  for  funds,  viz.,  $59,300,  I  sincerely  believe  the  whole 
difficulty  would  have  been  avoided." 

Wentworth  had,  however,  laid  off  a  reserva- 
tion for  the  Piutes,  embracing  six  townships,  ex- 
tending from  foothill  to  foothill  and  from  Big 
Pine  Creek  on  the  north  to  George's  Creek  on 
the  south.  He  reported  that  while  it  seemed  large 
for  the  number  of  Indians,  about  2,000  (disagree- 

128  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

ing  with  the  alleged  census  of  1,500),  "it  must  be 
remembered  that  it  is  only  in  small  spots  that  it 
is  susceptible  of  cultivation,  the  balance  being 
scarcely  fit  for  grazing  purposes,  and  none  of  it 
attractive  to  settlers."  This  reservation  was 
recognized  and  respected  by  the  whites  during  the 
brief  peace  of  that  summer. 
The  agent  further  reported; 

"Should  the  Department  agree  with  me,  as  I  trust  it  will 
for  I  see  no  other  way  of  keeping  these  Indians  quiet,  I  hope 
it  will  recommend  to  Congi'ess  the  immediate  appropriation  of 
$30,000  for  the  purpose  of  enabling  me  to  establish  this  reser- 
vation. That  sum,  judiciously  expended  in  the  purchase  of 
seed,  stock  cattle,  mules,  wagons,  ploughs,  etc.,  would  place 
these  wretched  people  beyond  the  necessity  of  stealing  for  a 
livelihood,  and  would  relieve  the  Goveniment  from  any 
further  expense  for  their  support,  as  well  as  dispense  with 
the  necessity  of  maintaining  an  expensive  military  post  in  a 
country  where  everything  has  to  be  hauled  a  distance  of  300 
miles  over  a  sandy  road,  with  water  only  at  long  intervals, 
and  every  obstacle  to  surmomit  which  is  objectionable  for  a 
military  depot.  Already  the  Government  has  expended  many 
thousands  of  dollars  in  sending  and  keeping  troops  there  to 
suppress  difficulties  that  would  never  have  occurred  had  Con- 
gress appropriated,  a  year  ago,  for  this  reservation. 

"The  discoveiy  of  gold  and  silver  mines  in  the  ranges  of 
the  movmtains  on  the  borders  of  the  Great  Basin  make  what 
was  three  years  ago  an  unknown  region  at  this  time  a  great 
thoroughfare;  and  the  importance  of  averting  at  this  time 
such  a  calamity  as  an  Indian  war  is  more  pressing,  as  it  would 
prevent  travel  and  deprive  the  country  of  valuable  resources 
made  known  by  the  energy  of  our  hardy  pioneers. 

"It  would  be  impossible  to  remove  the  Indians  of  the  more 
southerly  portion  of  my  district  to  this  proposed  reservation, 
because  the  rigor  of  the  climate  is  such  that  it  would  be  diffi- 
cult to  keep  them  during  the  inclement  portion  of  the  year, 
when  snow  covers  the  ground,  even  if  the  expense  of  moving 


them  were  not  an  insurmountable  objection  to  such  a  propo- 
sition. The  importance  of  prompt  action  by  Congress  in  this 
matter  cannot  be  presented  more  strongly  than  in  the  fact  that 
it  can,  by  a  small  appropriation,  if  made  at  once,  secure  per- 
manent peace  with  a  people  who  have  shown  themselves  for- 
midable in  war,  and  save  the  Government  the  enormous 
expense  attendant  upon  an  interminable  Indian  difficulty 
which  will  inevitably  occur. 

"Aside  from  this  view  of  the  matter,  every  principle  of 
justice  and  humanity  demands  that  a  portion  of  what  really 
belongs  to  them  by  inheritance  should  be  secured  to  them,  and 
that  a  nation  as  noble  as  ours  should  lend  a  helping  hand  to 
these  people  to  raise  them  from  their  degradation." 

Wentworth's  recommendations  went  to  Wm. 
P.  Dole,  Commissioner  of  Indian  Affairs.  Dole 
passed  them  on  to  J.  P.  Usher,  Secretary  of  the 
Interior,  but  with  a  letter  of  disapproval.  He  fa- 
vored finding  some  other  location,  large  enough 
to  accommodate  all  the  Indians  of  the  District  of 
Southern  California. 

Nothing  came  of  either  Latham's  bill  or  of 
Wentworth's  recommendations.  Congressman 
Aaron  A.  Sargent  successfully  opposed  the  latter, 
claiming  that  the  amount  asked  was  too  much, 
and  unnecessary,  as  there  were  not  500  Indians 
in  the  whole  Owens  River  country.  Wentworth 
came  back  in  a  later  report  with  evidence  that 
Sargent  did  not  know  what  he  was  talking  about, 
and  that  the  original  claim  of  Indian  population 
was  correct,  but  no  further  action  was  taken. 

The  year  closed  peacefully  in  Owens  Valley, 
though  the  desert  regions  to  the  southeast  re- 
mained dangerous  for  white  men. 






After  the  ostensible  pacification  of  the  Piutes, 
a  part  of  the  military  force  at  Camp  Independence 
had  returned  to  Camp  Babbitt,  near  Visalia,  leav- 
ing Captain  Goodman  and  Company  Q  at  the 
former  post.  Goodman  resigned  January  31, 
1863,  and  the  command  devolved  upon  James 
Ropes,  promoted  to  the  captaincy. 

While  Wentworth  and  AVasson  believed  they 
had  made  progress  in  their  philanthropic  efforts 
to  better  conditions  for  the  Owens  Valley  Piutes, 
and  while  Captain  George  and  his  followers  ap- 
parently desired  the  peace  for  which  they  had 
bargained  in  October,  renegades  from  other  re- 
gions were  preparing  for  the  warpath,  with  Owens 
Valley  as  the  scene  of  their  contemplated  opera- 
tions. The  Indians  under  Joaquin  Jim,  north  of 
Big  Pine  Creek,  had  taken  no  part  in  the  Inde- 
pendence council,  and  George  did  not  speak  for 
them ;  neither  did  he  represent  the  outlaw  element 
from  Kern  River,  Tehachapi  and  the  eastern 
desert  region.    All  that  faction  held  a  great  pow- 



WOW  in  September  (while  Wentworth  was  at 
Camp  Independence),  on  an  island  in  the  south 
fork  of  Kern  River,  and  agreed  to  a  campaign 
in  Owens  Valley  the  following  winter  and  spring. 
One  of  those  warriors  told  Weldon,  a  rancher  in 
that  vicinity,  that  the  intention  was  to  keep  the 
Mormons  out  of  Owens  Valley. 

John  Lee  and  Jose  Grijalva,  packing  goods  to 
Coso,  were  murdered  at  Canebrake,  in  Walker's 
Pass,  in  September.  Two  teamsters  met  a  like 
fate  not  far  from  Weldon 's.  During  the  next  two 
or  three  months  lone  white  men  were  killed  in 
that  region  whenever  safe  opportunity  offered 
itself  to  the  Indians.  Prospectors  Hall,  Shepherd, 
Turner  and  White,  working  near  the  Christmas 
Gift  mine,  were  among  the  victims.  Five  wood- 
choppers  in  the  hills  northeast  of  Lone  Pine  went 
the  same  way.  Five  men  named  McGuire,  Mor- 
rison, Taylor,  Cowles  and  Hall  were  besieged  in 
a  camp  near  Coso,  and  escaped  by  abandoning 
their  horses  and  camp. 

On  the  forenoon  of  March  3,  1863,  a  meeting 
was  being  held  at  San  Carlos  for  organizing  a 
district.  While  it  was  in  session,  men  named 
Walker,  Bellows,  Crohn  and  Badger  came  in  with 
a  young  man  named  Ayres,  just  escaped  from  an 
adventure  in  which  a  companion  had  lost  his  life 
at  Big  Pine.  The  meeting  hastily  adjourned, 
after  deciding  that  until  the  valley  reached  a 
more  peaceful  state  all  development  work  might 
be  suspended  without  prejudice  to  the  validity  of 
locations  already  made. 

Three  Ayres  brothers,  Hiram,  aged  thirty-five, 

132  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

Albert,  twenty-five,  and  William,  twenty-one,  and 
Hiram  McDonald  were  camped  at  Big  Pine  Creek, 
March  2, 1862.  Hiram  Ayres  had  gone  to  the  hills 
to  cut  some  stakes.  Eeturning  toward  camp,  he 
saw  an  Indian  loading  horses  with  camp  property, 
while  none  of  the  white  men  were  in  sight.  He 
hid  until  towards  morning,  when  the  moon  went 
down,  then  started  for  Camp  Independence,  where 
he  arrived  toward  the  following  midnight. 

William  Ayres  was  the  one  who  was  brought 
in  by  Walker  and  associates.  He  said  that  he  was 
in  camp  at  dusk  when  he  heard  McDonald  say: 
''Look  out,  Bill!  They're  going  to  shoot!"  Then 
a  gun  was  fired,  and  William  saw  an  Indian  war- 
rior running  toward  him  with  arrow  fixed.  He 
ran,  and  was  shot  as  he  did  so.  He  got  into  thick 
brush  and  under  a  bank  washed  out  by  high  water. 
Though  the  Indians  hunted  and  even  poked  his 
body  with  sticks  they  did  not  find  him.  When  all 
was  quiet  he  stole  out  and  escaped,  carrying  an 
arrow  in  his  body.  He  was  taken  to  Camp  Inde- 
pendence, where  after  long  treatment  by  the  post 
surgeon,  Horn,  he  recovered. 

Hanks,  William  Wallace,  Oscar  Bacon  and  — . 
McNamara  set  out  to  seek  Albert  Ayres,  whom 
they  found  struggling  toward  camp.  He  had  been 
with  McDonald  until  the  latter  had  been  struck 
by  four  arrows  and  had  given  up  hope  of  escape. 
Ayres  pulled  out  the  arrows  and  urged  McDonald 
to  try  to  get  away,  but  he  insisted  on  Ayres  leav- 
ing him  and  going  to  warn  the  miners  to  the  south- 
ward. When  McDonald  was  last  seen  the  Piutes 
were  pelting  him  with  stones. 


Word  came  from  Captain  Ropes  that  CMef 
George  had  disappeared  from  the  fort  after  re- 
ceiving his  rations  on  March  1st,  and  trouble  was 
expected.  Several  hundred  Indians  were  seen, 
March  2,  passing  along  the  valley  across  the  river 
from  the  mining  camp.  Their  women  and  children 
were  with  them,  which,  the  miners  afterward  con- 
cluded, was  the  only  reason  an  attack  was  not 
made  then.  Ten  men,  well  armed,  were  in  the 
camp,  and  believed  they  could  have  put  up  a  good 

Hanks  and  partners  had  returned  to  their 
claims  and  were  working  when  they  were  told 
that  their  cabin  had  been  broken  into  and  ran- 
sacked. On  going  to  it,  they  found  everything 
except  the  laboratory  table  in  a  state  of  wreck- 
age. Superstitious  fears  probably  accounted  for 
the  table  and  apparatus  being  undisturbed.  All 
clothing,  guns,  ammunition,  knives,  looking- 
glasses  and  portable  stuff  for  which  the  maraud- 
ers had  a  fancy  had  been  taken.  Mattresses  had 
been  cut,  emptied,  and  their  cloth  taken.  The  door 
had  been  broken  open  with  the  camp  ax.  Hanks 
wrote,  following  this: 

"I  am  beginning  to  change  my  mind  about  Indians.  I  used 
to  think  they  were  a  much-abused  race  and  that  the  whites 
were  generally  to  blame  in  troubles  like  this,  but  now  I  know 
to  the  contrary.  Those  very  Indians  who  had  been  entertained 
at  our  house  were  the  ones  to  attack  it,  and  would  have  mur- 
dered us  had  we  been  at  home." 

Again  he  wrote: 

"I  want  you  to  use  all  your  influence  to  have  the  Indian 
reservation  done  away  with,  and  to  prevent  a  treaty  until  the 

134  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

Indians  are  punished  severely.  The  citizens  of  this  valley  are 
exasperated  to  that  extent  that  they  will  not  respect  any 
treaty  until  the  Indians  are  completely  conquered  and  pun- 
ished. The  Indians  are  a  cruel,  cowai'dly,  treacherous  race. 
The  whites  have  treated  them  well,  paid  them  faithfully  for 
all  services  performed  by  them,  and  have  used  the  reservation 
only  after  gaining  the  consent  of  Captain  George,  their  chief. 
After  living  on  the  charity  of  whites  all  winter,  having 
gambled  away  the  blankets  and  beads  given  them  by  the  Gov- 
ernment, they  now,  without  giving  us  the  slightest  warning, 
pounce  down  like  vultures,  rob  those  who  have  treated  them 
best,  and  murdered  where  they  could  without  danger  to  them- 
selves. They  rush  upon  their  prey  in  great  numbers,  like  a 
pack  of  wolves,  and  not  satisfied  with  filling  the  bodies  of 
their  victims  with  glass-pointed  arrows,  beat  them  into  a 
pumice  with  stones.  Can  we  be  expected  to  give  such  inhuman 
wretches  a  chance  at  us  again'?  We  call  upon  you,  the  people 
of  Califoniia,  State  and  Federal  authorities,  to  have  this 
reservation  and  this  set  of  wild  savages  removed  to  some 
other  point.  This  valley  is  the  natural  thoroughfare  through 
the  mountains,  and  destined  by  nature  to  be  the  seat  of  a 
large  population." 

A  lone  cabin  owned  by  a  miner  named  Ladd, 
a  mile  from  the  San  Carlos  camp,  was  broken 
open  and  robbed  March  6th.  On  that  same  day, 
not  far  from  the  Ida  Camp,  east  of  the  present 
Manzanar,  Curtis  Bellows  fell  a  victim  to  lurk- 
ing* Indians.  The  natives,  seeking  metal  with 
which  to  make  bullets  for  their  guns,  had  de- 
stroyed the  lead  pipe  which  supplied  water  for 
the  camp,  making  it  necessary  for  Bellows  and 
his  partner,  named  Lambert,  to  visit  a  spring 
half  a  mile  distant.  Bellows  was  returning  from 
such  a  journey  when  an  arrow  from  ambush  en- 
tered his  body.  He  pulled  it  out  and  broke  it. 
Another  and  more  fatal  shot  struck  him,  and  he 


sank  dead  upon  the  trail.  His  partner,  seeing 
Bellows  fall,  ran  to  their  cabin,  followed  by  In- 
dians. By  shouting  orders,  he  made  the  Indians 
think  several  men  were  in  the  place,  and  they  re- 
treated. A  detail  of  fifteen  soldiers  recovered  and 
buried  the  body  of  Bellows. 

Another  letter  from  San  Carlos  said: 

"We  hear  that  40  men  of  Co.  E,  Second  Cavalry,  under 
Lieut.  Davis,  are  on  the  way  from  Visalia.  The  force  of 
soldiers  here  is  Co.  G,  under  Capt.  Ropes.  There  is  every 
probability  that  the  Indians  will  want  another  treaty  very 
soon,  when  they  find  nothing  can  be  gained  by  fighting.  They 
have  been  treated  well,  many  of  them  fed  by  the  United 
States,  and  their  persons  and  those  of  their  women  protected 
by  stringent  militai-y  orders.  I  have  yet  to  hear  of  the  first 
act  of  injustice  toward  them  since  the  treaty." 

Captain  Ropes  sent  Lieutenant  James  C. 
Doughty  and  six  men  to  the  Black  Rocks,  where 
the  Indians  were  known  to  be  in  force.  No  state- 
ment of  the  purpose  of  this  weak  expedition  is 
found  in  any  military  or  other  record.  Near  Black 
Rock  Spring  they  were  attacked  by  a  force  of 
Indians  estimated  at  200,  armed  with  guns  as 
well  as  with  bows  and  arrows.  Private  Jabez 
T.  Love  joy  was  shot  through  the  body  and  died 
that  evening.  Privates  George  W.  Hazen,  John 
W.  Armstrong  and  George  Sourwine  were  all 
wounded,  and  Lieutenant  Doughty  was  shot  in 
the  hand  with  an  arrow.  Sourwine 's  horse  was 
killed;  he  took  Lovejoy's,  and  carried  the  mortally 
wounded  man  in  front  of  him  to  Camp  Inde- 

An  account  written  at  the  time  gives  the  name 
of  Henry  Bosworth  as  one  of  the  wounded  men, 

136  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

but  no  such  name  appears  on  the  company  roll. 

Three  days  later  Ropes  took  twenty-seven 
soldiers,  accompanied  by  Charles  Anderson,  Dr. 
Burnham  and  other  citizens,  to  the  Black  Rocks. 
As  they  neared  the  tumbled  lava  masses,  a  few 
Indians  were  seen,  throwing  sand  in  the  air  and 
yelling  like  fiends.  They  opened  fire  on  the 
whites,  but  without  doing  any  damage.  Hanks 
wrote:  "Ropes  retreated  slowly  to  draw  the  In- 
dians from  the  rocks,  but  they  were  too  wary  to 
be  trapped,  and  stayed  in  the  natural  stronghold 
of  the  Black  Rocks.  After  a  few  vain  shots  the 
soldiers  went  back  to  camp."  Local  stories  al- 
leged that  Ropes  made  a  disgraceful  retreat. 
John  C.  Willett,  writing  of  it,  said  the  soldiers 
were  short  of  ammunition. 

One  of  the  most  noted  events  of  the  war  was 
the  escape  of  the  McGee  party  from  the  Indians, 
on  March  7,  1863.  This  story  has  been  printed  in 
different  journals,  generally  with  errors  and  em- 
bellishments designed  to  add  to  its  readability. 
The  following  is  the  account  given  to  the  author 
by  Alney  L.  McGee,  for  many  years  a  citizen  of 
Inyo  and  with  a  record  of  uprightness  in  keeping 
with  his  personal  bravery : 

A  party  composed  of  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Jesse  Sum- 
mers, Alney  L.  McGee,  his  mother,  a  little  girl 
(his  niece)  and  Negro  Charley  Tyler  camped  at 
the  soon-to-be  site  of  Owensville  on  the  night  of 
March  6th,  during  a  journey  from  Aurora  to 
Visalia.  Near  Big  Pine  they  came  upon  the  body 
of  McDonald,  whose  murder  has  been  narrated. 
The  corpse  had  been  stripped  of  every  shred  of 


clothing.  This  discovery  spurred  them  to  a  hasty 
flight  do^vn  the  valley.  Signal  smokes  were  seen 
as  they  neared  the  hills  below  Fish  Springs.  As 
the  party  moved  east  of  that  low  range,  a  band 
of  Indians  estimated  at  150  was  seen  blocking  the 
way  ahead.  The  party  left  the  poorly  marked 
road  to  cross  the  river.  The  wagons  stuck  in  the 
soft  mud  in  the  bottom  of  the  stream,  then  at  a 
low  stage,  and  the  horses  were  cut  loose.  By  the 
time  the  whites  had  crossed  the  Piutes  were  at 
the  western  bank,  sending  arrows  and  bullets 
among  them.  This  was  near  a  mound  ever  since 
known  as  Charley's  Butte,  a  short  distance  from 
the  present  intake  of  the  Los  Angeles  aqueduct. 
On  reaching  the  east  bank  Summers  and  Mc- 
Gee  put  the  women  and  little  girl  on  the  horses' 
backs,  and  ran  alongside,  holding  to  the  manes, 
and  thus  drew  beyond  the  Indians'  reach.  The 
yelling  Indians  pursued,  but  their  inferior  ponies 
were  unable  to  overtake  the  fugitives,  who  reached 
Camp  Independence  that  night.  Negro  Charley 
was  less  fortunate.  He  tried  to  catch  one  of  the 
band  of  loose  horses  which  were  being  driven  with 
the  party,  but  did  not  succeed.  When  last  seen 
he  was  running  and  fighting,  and  without  doubt 
some  of  the  assailants  paid  with  their  lives.  He 
had  taken  part  in  the  valley's  Indian  fighting, 
and  had  accounted  for  several  of  the  enemy.  His 
fate  was  never  definitely  known.  Captain  George 
claimed  that  he  was  taken  alive  and  was  tortured 
to  death  on  Big  Pine  Creek.  A  pioneer  told  of 
the  finding  of  a  skull  and  vertebrae  of  a  man,  later 
that  year,  on  a  stream  west  of  Charley's  Butte. 

138  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

The  skull  had  been  so  crushed  that  its  race  could 
not  be  determined.  It  appeared  that  the  victim 
must  have  been  dead  before  his  body  was  triced 
up  with  withes  over  a  fire.  Mr.  McGree  did  not 
believe  that  Charley  was  taken  alive. 

When  the  escapes  reached  the  fort  they  were 
halted  by  John  C.  Willett,  doing  sentry  duty. 
"When  Mrs.  McGee  was  lifted  from  her  horse  she 
was  unable  to  stand.  At  their  request  Willett 
hunted  up  citizen  acquaintances  in  the  camp,  and 
the  matter  was  reported  to  Captain  Ropes.  The 
latter 's  reception  of  them  was  not  to  his  credit; 
however,  they  remained  at  the  post  until  May, 
when  they  went  back  to  Aurora. 

The  party  lost  twenty-two  horses  and  their 
wagon  mth  its  load  of  personal  property,  in- 
cluding $640  in  money.  Unlike  many  other  cases 
of  Indian  depredations,  this  loss  was  never  made 
good  by  the  Government. 

A  San  Carlos  report  said  that  Captain  Ropes 
was  to  send  men  northward  to  prevent  similar 
attacks  on  other  travelers. 




ON     WEST      SHORE     OF      OWENS      LAKE INDIAN      BAND 


Assayer  Hanks,  reporting  to  the  president  of 
the  San  Carlos  company  in  San  Francisco  on 
March  8th,  wrote  that  Capt.  (Chas.)  Anderson 
and  himself  had  taken  six  carbines  and  a  lot  of 
cartridges  to  the  Union  mill,  probably  eight  miles 
south  of  San  Carlos.  ''I  look  on  the  magnificent 
landscape,"  he  writes,  ''and  thought  that  such 
a  valley  was  well  worth  fighting  for."  At  Rode- 
bank's  (an  error  for  Coburn's,  according  to  some 
old  residents)  on  George's  Creek,  everybody  was 
armed  and  expecting  an  attack.  Putnam's  stone 
cabin  on  Little  Pine  Creek  sheltered  a  number  of 
men,  prepared  to  defy  any  Indian  force.  Lone 
Pine  had  two  camps  wherein  citizens  had  gath- 
ered for  defense.  Four  men  were  fortified  at 
Clayton's  house  (locality  not  stated).  Every- 
where all  hands  were  burning  off  brush,  moving 
hay,  cleaning  guns,  cutting  portholes  in  cabin 
walls,  and  otherwise  preparing  for  battle.  Two 
nights  earlier  Indians  had  fired  the  haystack  near 
the  Union  mill,  and  the  camp  was  burned  at  the 


140  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

same  time.  Hanks  remained  to  help  defend  the 
Union  mill;  he  notes  that  he  considered  the  pres- 
servation  of  the  mill  to  be  of  great  importance. 

Troopers  Johnson  and  Potter  had  left  Camp 
Independence  early  in  March  for  Aurora,  for  a 
purpose  not  explained  but  probably  to  warn  in- 
tending travelers.  When  they  reached  Black 
Rocks,  March  12th,  on  their  return  trip,  they 
found  300  Indians  along  the  road,  with  50  guns. 
Chief  George  gave  them  a  pressing  invitation  to 
come  to  his  camp,  but  they  preferred  not  to  be 
the  central  figures  in  an  Indian  holiday.  Riding 
close  to  him,  they  put  spurs  to  their  horses  and 
dashed  through  the  line,  escaping  with  nothing 
more  serious  than  a  wound  in  Johnson's  hand  and 
a  bullet  crease  across  the  neck  of  his  horse. 

Hanks'  manuscript,  March  10th: 

"Today  14  soldiers  under  Lieut.  Doty  (Doughty)  crossed 
at  the  ferry  and  went  up  to  the  ford  to  put  up  a 
notice  of  warning  to  any  party  who  may  be  on  the  way  down, 
to  come  down  and  cross  at  San  Carlos.  Last  night  Indians 
were  all  around  the  mill,  as  we  could  see  their  tracks  this 

March  11. — "Today  Mr.  Summers,  one  of  the  men  who 
escaped  from  the  Indians,  came  down  to  the  mill.  He  tells 
a  thrilling  story.  He  says  the  Indians  did  not  go  up  the  river 
yesterday.  They  found  the  ferry  boat  had  been  cut  loose. 
Party  left  the  Union  mill  this  morning  and  went  up  as  far  as 
San  Carlos.  Found  the  rope  cut  and  boat  gone,  and  window 
and  door  smashed  at  the  house.    No  other  damage  was  done." 

Hanks'  notes  of  March  12th  relate  the  John- 
son-Potter incident,  with  the  remark  that  a  large 
party  of  soldiers  had  gone  to  see  if  they  could  find 
the  Indians. 


No  record  of  events  of  the  latter  half  of  March 
is  available,  though  it  was  in  the  middle  of  the 
busiest  season  of  trouble.  On  the  4th  of  April 
the  military  force  at  Camp  Independence  was  aug- 
mented by  the  arrival  of  Company  E,  Second  Cali- 
fornia Cavalry,  under  Captain  Herman  Noble — 
the  same  w^ho  as  Lieutenant  of  Company  A  had 
accompanied  Wasson  in  his  wasted  peace  mission 
the  year  before. 

Company  E  had  the  unique  record  of  being  the 
only  successful  mutineers  in  the  United  States 
army.  While  the  incident  is  aside  from  the  pur- 
pose of  this  history,  it  is  worth  preservation  as 
well  as  being  a  temporary  change  from  the  narra- 
tion of  the  guerrilla  warfare  then  prevailing.  It 
was  told  by  Chauncey  L.  Canfield,  a  private  in  the 
company :  Company  E  was  made  up  of  Tuolumne 
County  volunteers,  and  was  allowed  to  choose  its 
own  officers.  The  choice  for  captain  fell  upon 
D.  B.  Akey,  a  Mexican  War  veteran,  hard-working 
miner  and  good  citizen.  Like  other  California 
volunteers,  the  members  expected  to  be  sent  to 
the  battlefields  of  the  Civil  War;  and  like  others, 
the  company  was  held  in  the  West.  This  started 
the  discontent ;  a  march  to  Fort  Humboldt  during 
a  hard  winter  increased  it;  and  the  climax  was 
reached  in  Akey's  proving  to  be  a  veritable  tyrant. 
The  company  fought  Indians  in  northern  Califor- 
nia until  midsummer  of  1862.  It  was  then  agreed 
among  the  men  that  on  a  specified  date  no  man 
should  obey  any  order  given  by  Akey,  though  ex- 
pressing" a  willingness  to  act  under  any  other  offi- 
cer.   Though  under  the  Articles  of  War  each  was 

142  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

liable  to  death  for  mutiny,  it  was  felt  that  the 
circumstances  justified  desperate  measures.  Akey 
got  wind  of  the  situation,  and  went  to  San  Fran- 
cisco. During  his  absence  the  company  was  moved 
to  Red  Bluff,  but  any  hope  that  some  other  officer 
would  be  sent  in  his  place  was  shattered  by  his 
arrival  there.  At  Akey's  direction  the  orderly 
sergeant  had  the  company  drawn  up  in  line.  He 
then  said:  ''All  those  who  intend  to  refuse  to 
obey  my  commands  as  their  superior  officer  step 
two  paces  to  the  front."  That  command,  at  least, 
they  obeyed,  for  every  man,  except  two  who  had 
joined  subsequent  to  the  compact,  took  the  two 
steps  forward.  The  captain  glanced  up  and  down 
the  line,  said  nothing,  and  turned  and  walked  to 
the  ferry,  passing  from  his  company  forever.  The 
company  remained  there  four  months,  while  the 
War  Department  was  considering  its  case.  The 
decision  w^as  to  muster  it  out  of  service,  without 
pay,  and  it  was  marched  to  Benicia  Barracks  for 
that  purpose ;  but  through  the  intervention  of  Gov- 
ernor Stanford  the  sentence  was  revoked.  Noble 
was  appointed  its  captain  November  21,  1862,  and 
in  December  the  march  for  Owens  Valley  began. 
Akey  was  transferred  to  Noble's  former  company, 
A,  and  resigned  eleven  days  later.  He  went  to 
Nevada,  and  in  after  years  visited  Inyo. 

The  two  companies  at  Camp  Independence  left 
there  April  9,  Ropes  in  command.  A  soldier  of 
the  expedition,  writing  to  the  author  from  Massa- 
chusetts, stated  that  the  white  force  included  120 
soldiers  and  35  citizens.  The  following  day  a  band 
of  200  Indians  was  found  strongly  posted  on  a 


spur  of  the  Sierras  north  of  Big  Pine  creek.  Fir- 
ing lasted  all  afternoon,  and  toward  evening  the 
Indians  withdrew  into  the  mountains.  A  number 
(not  definitely  stated)  of  Indians  were  killed  or 
wounded;  white  casualties,  Private  Thomas 
Spratt,  of  G  Company,  dangerously  shot  in  the 
head,  and  Private  John  Burden,  of  E  Company, 
slightly  wounded.  Spratt  was  sent  back  to  the 
fort  for  attention,  with  J.  S.  Broder  as  one  of  the 
attendants.  A  large  band  of  Indians  pursued 
them  among  the  Black  Rocks,  but  they  made  a 
successful  escape. 

Sergeant  Huntington,  of  Company  Gr,  and  half 
a  dozen  men  had  a  running  fight  with  Chief 
George  and  a  large  body  of  Indians  in  the  Black 
Eocks,  and  reached  the  fort  safely,  after  killing 
several  of  their  pursuers. 

The  chief  Indian  headquarters  of  the  mid- 
southern  part  of  the  valley  was  at  Chief  George's 
rancheria  on  the  creek  which  still  bears  his  name, 
and  west  of  the  present  Manzanar  townsite.  On 
the  night  of  April  18  the  natives  had  a  feast  there, 
having  slain  a  work  ox  belonging  to  the  whites. 
The  next  morning  J.  L.  Bodle  saw  them  leaving  in 
a  southerly  direction,  and  with  his  companions 
counted  thirty-seven  of  them  strung  out  in  single 
file.  Word  was  sent  to  Camp  Independence,  and 
thirty  or  forty  soldiers  and  citizens  took  their 
trail.  It  was  followed  west  of  the  Alabama  hills 
to  a  point  two  miles  or  so  north  of  Cottonwood 
Creek,  where  a  bullet  through  a  man's  hat  gave 
notice  of  the  nearness  of  the  foe.  A  running  fight 
ensued,  the  Indians  being  driven  from  one  point 

144  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

to  another  until  they  made  a  last  stand  on  the 
west  shore  of  Owens  Lake,  not  far  from  the  mouth 
of  the  creek.  Their  guns  were  so  foul  that  they 
could  ram  bullets  into  the  barrels  only  by  pound- 
ing the  ramrods  with  stones.  Lieut.  Doughty  was 
dismounted  by  accidentally  shooting  his  own  horse 
through  the  head.  It  is  also  said  that  the  only 
casualty  to  the  white  forces  resulted  from  a  mis- 
directed shot  from  one  of  their  own  pistols.  When 
this  wounded  man  fell,  an  Indian  known  as  Chief 
Butcherknife  dashed  up  to  finish  him,  but  was 
slain.  Completely  beaten,  the  Piutes  sought  refuge 
in  the  lake.  A  strong  wind  was  blowing  from  the 
east  and  interfered  with  their  making  much  prog- 
ress in  swimming,  and  one  after  another  was  killed 
in  the  light  of  a  full  moon  just  rising  over  the 
eastern  mountains.  The  whites  established  a  long 
line  along  the  lake  shore,  and  remained  until  the 
bodies  began  to  wash  ashore.  A  pioneer  partici- 
pant alleged  that  the  next  morning  a  pair  of 
water-soaked  moccasins  was  found  near  the  lake, 
presumably  indicating  that  an  Indian  had  sur- 
vived the  rain  of  lead  and  had  emerged  when  op- 
portunity offered.  One  Indian  fled  westward  dur- 
ing the  fight;  he  headed  up  the  mountain,  with 
derisive  signs,  and  thereafter  lived  with  the  Kern 
Indians.  Taking  the  count  made  at  George's 
Creek,  thirty-five  or  thirty-six  Indians  were  killed 
in  that  affair.  Milo  Page,  a  pioneer,  asserted  that 
he  passed  the  spot  soon  afterward  and  saw  thirty- 
three  skulls,  from  which  coyotes  had  stripped  the 
flesh,  piled  up  in  one  place.  Bancroft's  Handbook, 
1864,  said  sixteen  Indians  were  killed  in  the  fight ; 
all  evidence  is  that  this  was  much  understated. 


The  George's  Creek  white  residents  joined  the 
soldiers  on  their  way  down,  leaving  only  J.  L. 
Bodle  and  one  other  man  as  guards  for  the  prop- 
erty at  that  settlement.  A.  L.  McGee,  John  Kis- 
pert,  W.  A.  Greenly,  Meyer  and  others  well  known 
in  later  Inyo  affairs  were  among  the  citizen  com- 

From  the  body  of  one  of  the  dead  Indians  was 
taken  the  Colt's  powder  and  ball  pistol  which 
Negro  Charley  had  carried,  and  this  w^eapon  was 
still  in  the  possession  of  Mr.  McGee  at  the  time  of 
his  death  a  few  years  ago.  Contrary  to  oft- 
repeated  report,  Mr.  McGee  stated  that  it  was  the 
only  bit  of  property  of  the  Summers-McGee  party 
recovered  from  the  marauding  Indians. 





Company  L,  Second  California  Cavalry,  Cap- 
tain Albert  Brown  commanding,  arrived  at 
Bishop  Creek  in  April,  1863,  and  remained  for  a 
few  weeks  before  going  on  to  Camp  Independence. 
It  returned  to  Fort  Churchill,  Nevada,  in  June. 

Company  D  of  the  same  regiment  became 
more  prominent  in  Owens  Valley  affairs.  With 
Captain  Moses  A.  McLaughlin  in  command,  it  left 
Camp  Babbitt  April  12,  and  reached  Keysville, 
Kern  County,  six  days  later.  The  official  report 

"Heard  that  a  large  party  of  Indians  were  camped  a  few 
miles  above,  and  at  2  o'clock  in  the  morning  of  the  next  day 
surromided  their  camp  and  killed  35  of  them.  Not  a  soldier 

Pioneers  of  both  Inyo  and  Kern  Counties 
speak  of  this  affair  as  a  cold-blooded  massacre. 
The  Kern  Indians  were  at  peace  with  the  whites. 
Hearing  that  troops  were  approaching,  they  were 
much  alarmed,  but  were  advised  by  white  acquain- 
tances to  give  up  their  arms  and  stay  close  to  the 



settlements.  They  delivered  eighteen  gnns  to  the 
white  settlers,  and  camped  near  Kernville  (then 
called  Whisky  Flat)  eight  miles  from  Keysville. 
The  soldiers  surrounded  the  camp  and  told  two 
Kern  petty  chiefs  to  pick  out  the  chiefs  of  their 
bands.  The  thirty-five  remaining  Indians  were 
herded  to  one  side  and  ruthlessly  shot  down.  This 
was  the  account  given  by  J.  W.  Sumner,  a  resident 
there  at  the  time.  He  said  further  that  no  evidence 
existed  to  implicate  the  victims  in  the  Owens  Val- 
ley troubles  a  hundred  miles  away.  The  superin- 
tendent of  Tule  River  Reservation,  the  nearest, 
mentions  in  a  report  that  year  that  the  Indians 
under  his  charge  had  frequently  given  informa- 
tion in  regard  to  the  movements  of  their  more 
hostile  neighbors  of  Owens  Valley,  and  when  so- 
licited to  join  against  the  whites  had  absolutely 
refused.  There  were  renegades  among  them, 
however,  who  had  engineered  the  Kern  River  war 
council  the  preceding  fall. 

McLaughlin's  command  reached  Camp  Inde- 
pendence April  24,  and  McLaughlin,  as  senior 
captain,  became  ranking  officer  at  the  post.  The 
following  day  his  company  started  on  an  unsuc- 
cessful two-day  scout  after  Indians.  On  the  ar- 
rival of  this  reinforcement  the  Summers-McGee 
party  asked  for  a  military  escort  through  the  val- 
ley on  their  way  to  Aurora,  but  the  request  was 
refused.  In  May  enough  citizens  to  form  a  strong 
party  left  for  Aurora,  and  the  refugees  went  with 
them.  On  the  way  out  Alney  McGee  and  H.  Hurley 
encountered  and  killed  three  Indians  on  Owens 

148  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

During  May  the  cavalrymen  were  active.  Lieut. 
George  D.  French,  of  McLaughlin's  company,  and 
twenty  men  made  a  scouting  trip,  during  wliich 
French  and  seven  of  his  men  attacked  an  Indian 
band,  killing  one  and  mortally  wounding  three. 
About  the  10th  or  12tli  twenty-five  or  thirty  Indian 
prisoners  were  taken  at  Big  Pine  and  sent  to  the 
fort,  by  a  detachment  of  Company  E.  Four  men 
of  Company  L,  under  Sergeant  Henry  C.  Church, 
came  on  a  party  of  fourteen  Indians  on  the  head- 
waters of  Owens  River  and  killed  four,  the  rest 
retreating  into  the  rocks.  This  company  was  out 
almost  continuously  and  by  its  destruction  of 
many  caches  of  Indian  stores  inflicted  more  seri- 
ous punishment  on  the  natives  than  the  killing  of 
a  few  of  their  braves  would  have  been.  During 
May  it  destroyed  about  300  bushels  of  "seed" 
(pine  nuts  and  taboose)  found  cached  in  the 
vicinity  of  Bishop  Creek.  Captain  McLaughlin 
himself  was  in  the  field  with  a  detachment,  seek- 
ing Joaquin  Jim,  leader  of  the  southern  Mono  In- 
dians. Jim's  camp  was  found  and  destroyed,  its 
residents  escaping. 

Sergeant  McLaughlin  (not  the  cay^tain)  suc- 
ceeded in  getting  a  conference  with  Captain 
George,  and  induced  him  to  visit  the  fort  in  peace, 
arriving  there  May  22.  Subchief  Dick  also  came. 
The  Indians  were  fed  and  treated  well,  and  said 
they  had  no  further  wish  to  fight  the  white  man. 
Other  Indians  began  coming  in,  ''clad  in  native 
costume,  a  head  of  hair, ' '  remarks  an  unidentified 
correspondent  of  a  San  Francisco  paper  of  that 
year.     Captain  George  is  described  as  second  to 


Joaquin  Jim  alone  in  influence  over  his  people.  He 
was  about  tliirty-six  years  old,  of  medium  height, 
wily  and  shrewd,  and  manly  in  bearing. .  His  face, 
normally  round  and  full,  was  wan  and  pinched 
from  privation  when  he  was  brought  to  the  post. 
Getting  enough  to  eat  was  an  ever-present  prob- 
lem with  the  Owens  Valley  Piutes,  and  was  aggra- 
vated for  some  of  them  by  the  rigid  enforcement 
of  strict  subtribal  boundaries  on  hunting  grounds. 
The  most  effective  campaigning  of  the  troops  was 
in  destruction  of  the  scanty  native  stores  of  food. 
At  this  time,  through  con-stant  flight  and  loss  of 
supplies,  the  Indians  were  in  dire  want. 

The  soldiers  themselves  were  ready  for  a  rest. 
Company  D  's  report  for  May  says : 

"The  company  during'  the  month  has  performed  several 
severe  marches  in  the  mountains,  suffering  much  for  want  of 
water  and  rations.  These  marches  have  been  performed  on 
foot,  it  being  impossible  to  use  horses;  but  their  labors,  com- 
bined with  that  of  other  troops  in  the  valley,  have  been 
crowned  with  success,  resulting  as  they  have  in  the  subjuga- 
tion of  the  Indians,  and  terminating  thus  speedily  a  war 
which  promised  to  be  of  much  longer  duration." 

While  such  congratulatory  reflections  seemed 
justified  at  the  moment,  they  proved  to  be  pre- 

Four  hundred  Indians  surrendered  at  Camp 
Independence  June  4.  Runners  to  outlying  bands 
met  with  fair  success,  but  their  work  was  largely 
nullified  by  that  of  a  few  white  men.  Captain 
Ropes,  in  a  letter  published  in  the  Esmeralda 
Star,  of  Aurora,  July  30,  bitterly  criticized  citi- 
zens who  had  lacked  the  courage  to  bear  their 
share  of  fighting  and  danger. 

150  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

"As  soon  as  a  cessation  of  hostilities  was  proclaimed  by 
the  commanding  officer  these  stay-at-home  fellows  gTew  won- 
drous brave,  and  boldly  declared  their  animosity  to  the  whole 
red  race.  Two  Indian  messengers  that  were  sent  from  the 
post  to  the  White  Mountain  district  to  gather  these  Indians 
were  fired  upon  by  some  chivalrous  miners,  though  the  mes- 
sengers were  unarmed  and  bore  a  white  flag.  Of  course  they 
never  i-etumed,  and  today  prospectors  are  in  danger  of  their 
lives.  Then,  again,  a  Tehachapi  Indian  who  had  been  for 
three  months  in  irons  was  released  and  sent  home  to  induce 
his  tribe  to  cease  hostilities  and  come  in.  With  what  would 
have  been  considered  astonishing  good  faith  in  even  a  white 
man,  he  seems  to  have  worked  faithfully  to  accomplish  his 
mission,  and  was  returning  with  a  number  of  his  people,  men, 
women  and  children,  when  they  were  fired  upon  in  a  most 
cowardly  way  while  they  were  sitting  in  their  camp  only  15 
miles  from  the  post.  Two  men  and  one  little  girl  were 
killed,  and  all  were  scalped  by  these  brave  and  chivalrous 
gentlemen,  who  rode  off  and  exhibited  their  bloody  trophies 
of  the  war.  At  the  Big  Lake  the  recollection  of  their  glorious 
deeds  so  stirred  their  noble  souls  that  they  became  slightly 
oblivious,  and  in  that  state  one  of  the  noble  trio,  Fl-ank 
Wliitson,  was  arrested  by  Lieutenant  French,  who  had  been 
sent  for  him.  The  gentleman  is  now  in  our  guard  house  in 
irons,  and  awaits  an  order  for  trial.  Of  the  Indians  who 
escaped  from  this  attack,  most  of  them  made  their  way  to  the 
mountains,  where  they  now  are  and  where  they  will  remain 
for  all  that  anyone  can  do  to  drive  them  out.  Never  again 
can  any  of  them  be  induced  to  place  any  faith  in  the  promises 
of  white  men,  and  if  another  outbreak  occurs  it  will  be  far 
the  most  desperate  we  have  ever  seen. 

"I  should  have  mentioned  that  the  last  party  of  Indians 
mentioned  also  bore  a  white  flag,  traveled  openly  in  the  road 
in  daylight,  and  that  their  purpose  was  known  to  everyone. 
But  for  such  ruffians  as  those  who  fired  upon  them,  unarmed 
as  they  were,  there  would  not  today  be  a  hostile  Indian  in  the 
entire  country;  and  those  who  may  hereafter  suffer  will  have 
Mr.  Wliitson  and  others  of  like  ilk  to  thank  for  it." 

Milo  Page,  writing  many  years  later,  gave  a 


version  of  this  affair  quite  different  in  details,  but 
not  changing  the  appearance  of  murderous  treach- 
ery. His  statement  was  that  an  Indian -known  as 
Thieving  Charley  was  given  a  white  flag  by  Cap- 
tain McLaughlin,  with  a  note  stating  to  whoever 
read  it  that  Charley  was  on  his  way  to  bring  the 
Panamint  Indians  to  Camp  Independence  to  sur- 
render. This  note  fell  into  the  hands  of  W.  T. 
Henderson,  in  the  Panamint  region.  Charley 
rounded  up  eleven  Indians,  and  on  his  return  to 
Owens  Valley  he  was  followed  by  Henderson, 
Lyman  Martin,  John  Shipe,  Frank  Whitson  and 

Ringgold.     At  Charley  Johnson's,  at  Lone 

Pine,  Ringgold  got  drunk  and  was  not  in  the  sub- 
sequent affair — a  procedure  which  Henderson 
claimed  resulted  from  cowardice  and  intention. 
The  Indians  camped  near  the  Alabama  hills. 
Henderson  and  fellow  murderers  attacked  them 
early  the  next  morning  and  killed  nine  of  the 
twelve.  The  two  survivors  went  on  to  Camp  In- 
dependence and  reported  to  Captain  McLaughlin. 
A  detachment  of  soldiers  was  sent  to  bring  in  the 
culprits.  At  Olancha  the  commander  asked  loudly 
if  anyone  there  had  been  killing  Indians.  An- 
swered in  the  negative,  he  told  his  men  they  could 
go  in  and  get  a  drink.  Henderson,  Martin  and 
Shipe  were  visible  as  they  crawled  into  their 
brush  from  their  blankets.  Whitson  ran  to  catch 
his  mule,  and  a  corporal  went,  under  instructions, 
to  ask  if  he  had  been  killing  Indians.  If  Whitson 
had  said  no  (says  Page's  story)  there  would  have 
been  a  report  that  no  guilty  men  could  be  found ; 
instead,  Whitson  said,  "Yes;  what  are  you  going 

152  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

to  do  about  it?"  He  was  arrested  and  taken  to 
Camp  Independence,  where  he  was  kept  under 
guard.  Finally  word  was  sent  by  Page  that  they 
were  tired  of  guarding  him,  and  if  he  would  try 
to  escape  the  boys  would  shoot  at  him,  but  not  to 
hit.  Still  Whitson  refused  to  escape,  and  was 
taken  to  Fort  Tejon,  where  he  was  kept  for  a  few 
months  and  finally  released. 

With  such  happenings  as  this  and  the  Kern 
River  massacre  in  mind,  it  was  not  surprising  that 
many  of  the  Indians  remained  utterly  unrecon- 
ciled, and  that  as  opportunity  offered  they  re- 
sorted to  every  primitive  method  of  revenge  and 
reprisal.  They  could  not  be  more  vicious  than 
some  whites  had  proved  to  be.  However,  at  that 
time  they  were  completely  beaten  in  the  valley  of 
which  they  had  been  so  recently  the  complete  mas- 
ters. Chiefs  George  and  Dick  knew  that  resuming 
the  Vv^arpath  meant  hunger,  if  not  starvation,  for 
their  families  and  people.  At  the  post  they  were 
safe  and  were  being  fed. 

Indian  Agent  Wentworth  was  requested  by 
General  Wright  to  receive  the  Owens  Valley  In- 
dians at  San  Sebastian  Reservation,  near  Fort 
Tejon.  In  a  report  dated  September  1,  1863,  he 
again  referred  to  the  $30,000  appropriation  for 
which  he  had  asked  with  which  to  care  for  the  Inyo 
natives.    Had  Congress  granted  it,  he  said, 

"No  Indian  Avar  would  have  been  waged,  and  the  country 
would  have  been  saved  more  than  $250,000  in  its  treasury, 
the  lives  of  many  of  its  valuable  citizens,  and  many  of  the 
poor  misguided  Indians,  to  whom  the  Government  haa 
promised  protection,  would  today,  instead  of  being  dead,  be 


living  and  tilling  the  soil  of  their  native  valley,  and  through 
their  own  willing  hands  obtaining  an  honest  and  well-earned 
livelihood Owing  to  recent  and  extensive  mines  dis- 
covered in  the  Owens  River  Valley,  and  the  consequent  rush 
of  mmers  and  settlers  there,  I  deem  that  locality  for  an  In- 
dian reserve  entirely  impracticable,  and  the  present  war  fully 
demonstrates  that  the  Indian  and  white  race  can  never  live 
peacefully  in  close  proximity  to  each  other.  I  have  therefore 
to  recommend  the  abandonment  of  that  valley,  for  an  Indian 
reservation.  The  mines,  which  are  of  unsurpassed  riches,  will 
cause  thousands  to  permanently  settle  there  during  the  com- 
ing year,  and  as  heretofox'e  throughout  all  California,  the 
rights  of  the  Indian  will  be  disregarded,  and  constant  turmoil 
and  war  will  be  a  natural  result." 

Pursuant  to  instructions,  Captain  McLaughlin 
left  Camp  Independence  July  11,  1863,  with  906 
Indian  men,  women  and  children.  The  escort  com- 
prised seventy  men  of  companies  D,  E  and  G,  and 
twenty-two  men  of  the  Fourth  California  Infan- 
try, of  whose  presence  at  the  post  there  is  no  other 

At  Hot  Springs  Valley,  near  Keyesville,  or- 
ders were  received  to  abandon  Camp  Indepen- 
dence, and  McLaughlin  and  Company  D  returned 
to  make  the  necessary  preparations.  McLaughlin 
sold  the  Government's  property  at  the  post  to 
Warren  Matthews.  Having  no  instructions  or 
authority  for  this  proceeding,  he  was  court  mar- 
tialed  and  dismissed  from  the  service  the  follow- 
ing year.  President  Johnson  removed  part  of  his 
disabilities  three  years  later. 

The  band  of  Piute  captives  went  on  to  Tejon, 
arriving  there  July  22.  While  it  was  certain  that 
a  large  number  of  Indians  had  escaped  along  the 
way,  to  return  to  their  native  valley,  Wentworth 

154  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

reported  the  delivery  of  850  at  the  reservation, 
and  said  that  twice  as  many  were  yet  in  Owens 
Valley.  When  the  settlers  learned  that  stragglers 
were  returning  from  the  reservation  journey,  they 
made  a  virtue  of  necessity  and  sent  an  invitation 
to  the  exiles  to  return  and  live  in  peace. 

Even  while  McLaughlin  was  convoying  his  cap- 
tives to  Tejon,  the  valley  north  of  Big  Pine  Creek 
was  as  dangerous  as  ever  to  isolated  men.  While 
Joaquin  Jim's  chief  stronghold  was  in  Long  Val- 
ley, he  constituted  himself  the  overlord  of  north- 
ern Owens  Valley  as  well.  Two  of  his  warriors 
were  killed  in  the  White  Mountains  by  prospect- 
ors, who  after  this  amicable  preliminary  left  a 
white  flag  as  a  bid  for  peace.  Jim  himself  gave 
the  answer,  as  the  next  visit  of  the  whites  to  that 
locality  disclosed,  by  carrying  away  the  flag,  and 
putting  in  its  place  his  own  war  banner,  a  scarlet 
cloth  bordered  with  raven  feathers — said  to  have 
been  a  handsome  piece  of  work. 

About  the  first  of  August  nine  prospect- 
ors ventured  into  Little  Round  Valley,  at  the 
threshold  of  Jim's  stronghold.  Part  of  them  war- 
ily prospected  while  the  others  remained  as  a 
camp  guard.  No  Indians  were  seen  until  the  fol- 
lowing evening,  when  the  camp  was  attacked  in 
force.  Two  Lidians  were  killed.  The  whites  were 
unhurt,  but  made  their  way  to  Fish  Slough  that 
night,  and  to  Owens  River  the  next  morning. 

W.  L.  Moore  and  Mark  Cornish,  coming  from 
Aurora,  battled  with  Lidians,  killing  two  near 
Adobe  Meadows. 

In  the  early  part  of  July  there  came  to  the 


valley  a  company  known  as  the  Cliurch  party.  Its 
members,  named  Parker,  Long,  Ericson,  Chase, 
Evans,  Miller  and  one  more,  were  from  San  Fran- 
cisco. They  believed  that  Indian  friendship  would 
result  from  an  attitude  of  generosity  and  good 
will.  This  party  made  its  camp  near  where  Laws 
now  is.  Nothing  is  narrated  of  the  doings  of  these 
men  prior  to  the  arrival,  late  in  August,  of  Ezra 
D.  Merriam,  a  young  man  who  brought  letters  of 
introduction  from  mutual  friends  in  San  Fran- 
cisco. During  the  weeks  reports  and  warnings  of 
Indian  dangers  had  come  to  their  camp,  but  noth- 
ing of  those  facts  was  told  to  Merriam ;  it  would 
appear  that  he  did  not  take  strongly  to  the  olive- 
branch  idea. 

On  the  invitation  of  Silas  Parker,  Edmund 
Long  and  Edward  Ericson,  Merriam  started  with 
them  to  locate  timber  on  the  mountains  northwest 
of  the  valley.  This  trip  resulted  in  the  deaths  of 
the  first  three,  and  gave  Merriam  an  experience 
that  ranks  among  the  notable  incidents  of  the  pe- 
riod. We  narrate  it  in  his  own  words,  as  found 
in  the  Hanks  collection  of  manuscripts : 

"We  left  camp  in  the  Keyes  district,  lOwens  River  Valley, 
September  2d,  to  locate  some  timber  on  the  headwaters  of 
Owens  River.  We  camped  at  night  twenty  miles  from  the 
starting  point,  being  unable  to  reach  water.  Resumed  our 
journey  at  daylight  on  the  third.  Saw  signs  of  Indians  five 
miles  further  on.  Five  miles  more  brought  us  to  the  timber, 
where  the  Indians  had  been  gathering  pine  nuts.  We  were 
unable  to  get  a  road  and  concluded  to  cross  the  river.  We 
found  an  Indian  trail  to  the  river,  half  a  mile  from  the  top 
of  the  bank  down  the  trail,  and  600  feet  perpendicular. 
Breakfasted  at  the  river  at  noon— the  first  water  we  had  foi 

156  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

twenty-three  hours.  We  saddled  our  horses  and  started  up 
the  other  bank,  after  one  and  one-half  hours  rest,  with  Parker 
in  lead,  -Long  second,  Erieson  third  and  myself  last. 

"When  we  were  twenty-five  yards  from  the  top,  which  was 
covered  with  large  rocks,  eight  rifle  shots  were  fired,  Parker 
fell,  pierced  by  two  balls  through  the  breast,  exclaiming-  'My 
God,  I'm  shot!' 

"Long"  and  Erieson  left  their  horses  and  jumped  behind 
rocks,  rifles  in  hand.  Not  seeing  an  enemy  I  took  refuge 
behind  a  rock  ten  feet  from  Erieson,  who  had  laid  down  his 
rifle  and  was  exposing  himself,  calling  to  Parker.  I  saw  the 
crumbling  of  a  rock  from  the  top  of  the  hill,  and  dodged  my 
head  down  as  a  ball  whizzed  past,  a  few  inches  above. 

"The  Indians  were  in  front  and  on  both  flanks.  About  the 
same  time  a  shot  was  fired  from  the  right.  I  asked  Erieson 
if  he  was  hit.  He  said  he  was.  He  was  clasping  his  thigh, 
and  raised  his  hand,  from  which  blood  was  streaming,  I 
saw  nothing  of  Long  after  he  went  behind  his  rock, 

"I  then  attemi^ted  to  get  to  another  rock,  but  missed  ray 
footing  and  slid  down  the  bank  for  twenty  feet.  Indians  on 
the  left  started  down  the  trail.  I  reached  the  bank  at  a  dif- 
ferent point  from  the  trail,  could  not  cross,  and  hid  in  the 
chaparral.  Heard  two  more  rifle  shots,  but  saw  no  Indians 
for  two  hours;  then  I  saw  seven  Indians  on  the  opposite  bank, 
motioning  to  others  on  my  side  of  the  river  and  pointing  to 
where  I  was  concealed.  I  worked  through  the  chapaiTal,  and 
saw  ten  Indians  coming  there,  so  I  arose  and  ran  down  the 
canyon.     Tliey  whooped  and  gave  chase. 

"I  outran  them  for  a  time,  then  found  that  they  were  gain- 
ing on  me.  I  jumped  into  the  river,  but  found  that  I  could 
not  cross  it  on  account  of  the  rapid  current.  Half  a  mile 
below  I  came  to  a  fall  fifteen  feet  high.  Tried  to  reach  the 
bank  but  could  not,  and  was  carried  over.  The  euiTent  had 
carried  me  faster  than  the  Indians  could  pursue.  I  struck 
bottom  and  caught  between  two  rocks,  and  had  almost  lost 
breath  when  a  final  struggle  extricated  me.  Came  to  the 
surface,  caught  my  breath,  then  dove  and  came  up  under 
chaparral  on  the  bank,  hiding  me  from  view.  A  small  rock 
projected  twelve  inches  from  the  bank  and  three  inches  above 
the  water.  I  sank  my  body  and  raised  my  nose  under  the 


"In  a  few  minutes  I  heard  Indians  on  the  bank  and  just 
above  my  head,  and  saw  two  on  the  opposite  bank  with  rifles, 
scanning  the  bank  under  which  I  was.  Some  of  the  Indians 
on  my  side  moved  part  of  the  chaparral  that  covered  me.  My 
hat  had  washed  ashore,  and  an  Indian  took  it.  I  remained 
there  three  hours  before  the  Indians  left.  Half  an  hour  later 
all  was  silent;  and  I  floated  down  stream  until  I  struck  a 
large  rock  on  which  I  climbed.  Jumped  for  shore,  caught  a 
bush,  and  finally  got  out.  I  hid  in  a  canebrake  until  dark, 
completely  chilled  and  scarcely  able  to  move.  Could  see  no 
signs  of  Indians.  Finally  I  managed  to  get  up  motion, 
reached  the  top  of  the  hill  and  ran  through  the  timber.  I 
went  to  the  camp  we  had  left  on  the  2d,  traveling  all  night 
and  until  10 :00  the  next  morning  without  water,  until  I 
reached  the  valley.  On  my  way  down  I  saw  several  Indian 

Word  was  sent  to  San  Carlos,  Bend  City  and 
the  Union  mill,  and  from  each  came  men  to  take  a 
hand  in  punishing  the  Indians.  George  K.  Phil- 
lips was  elected  captain  of  the  company  of  thirty 
well  armed  men.  A  letter  of  the  time  comments 
that  it  was  a  strangely  assorted  band,  though  a 
determined  one.  There  were  Texas  rangers  and 
frontiersmen,  and  there  were  those  but  recently 
from  clerkships  or  to  whom  for  other  reasons  out- 
door life  was  a  novelty  and  who  were  scarcely 
browned  by  exposure.  The  party  rode  up  Bishop 
Creek  to  the  foothills,  and  along  the  latter  to 
" Greenly 's  Valley,"  (Round  Valley).  Camp  was 
made,  and  to  insure  intent  alertness  pickets  were 
changed  hourly.  One  of  the  pickets  created  an 
alarm  by  tiring,  harmlessly,  at  one  of  his  fellows. 
The  next  morning  Merriam  guided  the  party  to 
the  scene  of  the  ambush.  Long's  body  was  found, 
pierced  by  nine  bullets.     Ericson  had  been  shot 


158  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

through  the  head.  Both  bodies  had  been  dragged 
along  the  trail,  that  of  Ericson  by  a  willow  withe 
around  his  neck.  The  body  of  Parker  was  not 
found,  nor  was  it  accounted  for,  except  by  the  sup- 
position that  he  had  been  captured  alive.  The  fol- 
lowing paragraphs  are  from  a  letter  written  by 
one  of  the  men  of  the  expedition : 

"On  finding  the  bodies  of  Ericson  and  Long,  we  dug 
graves,  covered  the  bodies  with  pine  branches,  piled  in  rocks 
and  earth.  One  man  said :  'Come,  boys,  let's  go ;  we  can  do  no 
more  for  the  poor  fellows;'  then  in  a  lower  and  tremulous 
voice  he  added :  'God  give  his  soul  a  better  show  than  this.'  I 
have  listened  to  long  prayers  in  grand  cathedrals,  where  the 
sunlight  poured  in  through  stained  glass  windows  and  fell  on 
pews  of  carved  oak,  but  I  never  heard  so  fervent,  so  touch- 
ing a  prayer  as  this,  far  away  in  this  mountain  land,  among 
the  pines,  under  the  shadow  of  the  giant  Sierras,  where  the 
river,  deep  in  the  wild  and  rocky  canyon  below,  murmured 
the  requiem  of  the  dead;  where  the  blue  sky,  widespread,  ex- 
tends from  mountain  range  to  mountain  range,  over  mile  upon 
mile  of  valley  land  and  wooded  hills.  We  left  them,  sadly 
and  silently,  and  went  up  to  our  comrades  on  the  hill, 

"We  examined  where  the  men  fell,  and  saw  where  the 
rocks  were  drenched  with  their  blood.  We  saw  where  Mr. 
Merriam  ran  down  the  hill,  and  wondered  how  it  was  possible 
for  a  man  to  accomplish  so  much.  We  came  to  the  conclusion 
that  this  was  not  a  war  party,  although  we  think  Joaquin  Jim 
was  among  them Joaquin  Jim  has  never  been  con- 
quered. He  has  said  frequently  that  he  would  not  let  the 
whites   occupy   his   domain, 

"After  we  had  buried  the  dead  and  returned  to  our  horses 
we  commenced  a  search  about  the  Indian  camp.  We  found 
baskets,  great  quantities  of  pinons  cached,  the  bridle  of  Mr. 
Merriam's  horse,  a  pair  of  shoes  which  belonged  to  Mr.  Eric- 
son, and  his  hat  with  a  bullet  hole  through  it,  covered  with 
blood.  We  each  took  as  many  piiions  as  we  could  carry. 
One  or  two  stayed  behind  and  destroyed  all  that  remained  by 
burning  them. 


"Unless  something-  is  done  for  us  we  shall  have  much 
trouble.  We  cannot  prospect  and  watch  Indians  at  the  same 
time.  We  cannot  prospect  with  a  rifle.  There  is  no  need  of 
a  military  force  near  San  Carlos— we  can  defend  it  our- 
selves; but  we  want  stations  along  the  valley  so  £hat  people 
may  safely  pass,  and  prospectors  find  a  refuge  from  the 
savage,  who  is  peaceful  today  and  warlike  tomorrow." 

The  chase  seeming  to  be  hopeless,  return  was 
made  to  San  Carlos.  On  the  way  down,  the  party 
met  two  men  named  Bell  and  Slocum  at  Big  Pine, 
where  they  had  gone  with  the  idea  of  starting  a 
sawmill.  Indians  had  warned  them  to  leave,  and 
after  talking  with  the  Phillips  company  they  con- 
cluded that  it  would  be  wise  to  comply. 

Henderson  and  associates,  mining  in  the  south- 
eastern Inyo  ranges,  had  been  driven  out  in  March 
by  Indian  dangers.  They  went  back  after  an  ab- 
sence of  not  more  than  a  month.  On  reaching  the 
Josephine  mill  they  learned  that  Chief  Bigfoot  had 
the  better  of  a  fight  with  the  miners  the  day  before 
and  had  gone  across  to  the  Panamint  Mountains. 
Henderson  w^aited  until  the  arrival  of  Ringgold 
from  Owens  Lake,  and  the  two  followed  the  trail 
of  White  and  others  to  their  mines  in  the  Pana- 
mints.  After  traveling  seventy  miles  the  camp  of 
White  was  found  at  Mesquite  Springs.  Going  on, 
Indians  were  seen  in  pursuit.  Henderson  and 
Ringgold  waited  until  they  came  near  enough  to 
parley.  The  Indian  spokesman  said  in  Spanish 
that  White  and  his  men  were  up  in  the  mountains. 
The  whites,  seeing  that  a  battle  was  intended, 
opened  fire  and  killed  two  of  the  leaders.  A  fifteen- 
mile  running  fight  ensued ;  its  casualties  were  the 
killing  of  three  Indians  and  Ringgold's  being  left 

160  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

afoot  by  the  killing  of  his  horse.  Henderson  vis- 
ited the  neighborhood  in  1870,  and  found  parts  of 
the  skeletons  of  three  men  and  some  bones  of  a 
woman  in  the  rnins  of  a  cabin  which  had  been 
burned  at  Combination  Camp.  He  gives  the  date 
of  the  killing  of  his  companions  as  April  13,  1863. 

Work  had  begun  at  the  Josephine  two  years 
earlier.  Machineiy  for  its  ten-stamp  mill  was  the 
first  freight  brought  into  Inyo,  as  freight;  this 
was  hauled  by  T.  F.  A.  Connelly  in  1862  via  Walk- 
er's Pass.  J.  W.  Wadleigh  was  superintendent  of 
the  Josephine  venture  at  that  time.  The  mill  was 
built  at  Granite  Springs.  It  was  a  crude  affair, 
as  would  be  expected  in  a  remote  country  where 
the  delivery  of  each  pound  of  freight  involved  a 
cost  of  twenty-five  cents  for  transportation ;  while 
the  shoes  and  dies  of  its  batteries  were  iron,  wood 
served  for  the  stems  and  wherever  else  possible. 
Primitive  though  the  plant  was,  its  owners  later 
put  a  valuation  of  $250,000  on  it  when  they  tried  to 
collect  from  the  Government  for  its  loss  as  an 
Indian  depredation.  It  was  burned  during  this 
year.  Its  destruction  was  attributed  to  Indians, 
by  the  owners.  Not  all  the  pioneers  in  the  country 
agreed  in  this  conclusion,  however ;  some  of  them 
said  the  mill  was  never  profitable,  and  that  its  loss 
was  to  the  advantage  of  those  interested.  Cer- 
tainly they  tried  to  secure  ample  reimbursement 
from  the  nation — an  attempt  which  freighter 
Connelly's  evidence  helped  to  block. 

Slate  Range  mines  had  been  discovered  by 
Dennis  and  John  Searles  and  others  in  1861,  and 
they  had  a  mill  built  in  time  to  be  burned  during 


the  troubles ;  this  was  unquestionably  done  by  the 

Ten  or  twelve  skulls  of  white  men,  and  other 
human  bones,  were  found  under  a  shelving  pile  of 
rocks  near  Anvil  Springs  in  1874.  Nothing  was 
known  of  the  identity  of  the  victims  or  of  the  time 
of  their  deaths.  The  supposition  was  that  they 
had  there  taken  refuge  from  Indians  and  had  all 
been  killed.  For  this  discovery  there  has  been 
found  but  one  authority.  It  is  certain,  however, 
that  an  unknown  number  perished  on  the  lone- 
some trails  of  that  region. 





There  were  no  further  encounters  of  conse- 
quence in  Owens  Valley  during  the  later  months 
of  1863.  In  the  belief  that  Indian  warfare  was  at 
an  end,  settlers  began  coming  in  a  steadily  in- 
creasing stream  to  the  little  settlements,  and  new 
places  sprang  up.  A  letter  to  the  Alta  California, 
dated  at  San  Carlos  September  4,  1863,  reviews 
a  number  of  ''rushes"  to  different  localities — 
"White  Mountains,  Slate  Mountain,  Keyes  District, 
Head  of  the  Lake,  and  the  Sierra  foothills. 

"Mills  are  going  up  and  houses  are  being  built  at  San 
Carlos  and  elsewhere.  The  San  Carlos  company  have  finished 
2,700  feet  of  their  ditch  and  are  rapidly  progressing  with 
their  mill.  The  Center  comj^any  are  running  three  tunnels. 
The  Nelson  mining  company  are  about  to  commence  work, 
their  teams,  with  provisions,  tools,  etc.,  having  arrived.  The 
Monster  Hill  Tunnel  company,  Regina  Tunnel  company,  and 
Clara  company  are  about  to  commence.  The  Inyo  G.  &  S.  M. 
company  have  commenced  running  a  tunnel  on  the  Lucerne 
and  Granada.  From  Chrysopolis  the  most  flattering  accounts 
and  rock  full  of  gold  are  sent  down.  In  Russ  district  sev- 
eral companies  are  at  work.  The  Eclipse  is  turning  out  very 
rich  ore  and  is  of  great  extent.     If  it  is  not  the  richest  mine 



in  all  California  we  are  all  mistaken It  would  be  im- 
possible to  name  or  notice  the  numerous  leads  which  have 

been  recorded  in  the  various  districts Our. miners,  who 

are  generally  men  of  education,  vie  with  each  other  in  select- 
ing refined  names  for  their  mines.  Silver  Cloud,  Norma, 
Oljrmpic,  Golden  Era,  Welcome,  Chrysopolis,  Gem,  Green 
Monster,  Blue  Bird,  Red  Bird,  Evadne,  Fleta,  Bonnie  Blos- 
som, Calliope,  Romelia,  Lucerne,  Pluto's  Pet,  Birousa,  Proser- 
pine, Atahualpa,  and  Ida  are  among  the  mines  here. 

"San  Carlos  is  progressing  rapidly.  It  now  boasts  of  two 
stores,  two  butcher  shops,  two  assay  offices,  an  express  of- 
fice, a  saloon,  and  mechanics  of  all  kinds. 

"Our  population  is  about  200.  Yesterday  we  polled  106 
votes,  58  of  which  were  Union.  Many  of  our  citizens  went 
down  to  the  Union  mill  to  vote,  as  it  was  feared  there  might 
be  a  dispute,  it  not  being  certain  yet  whether  we  are  in  Mono 
or  Tulare  county.  Others  who  claim  a  residence  in  Mono 
went  up  to  Van  Fleet's  to  vote. 

"There  is  a  new  express  started  from  San  Carlos  via 
Aurora.  Perhaps  when  we  grow  a  little,  Messrs.  Wells,  Fargo 
&  Co.  will  honor  us  with  an  office.  We  are  quite  as  worthy 
of  it  as  Fresno  City,  yet  I  saw  their  sign  on  a  house  there, 
which  was,  at  the  time,  deserted." 

A  letter  to  the  Alta  from  Bend  City,  December 

"The  Coso  company  is  running  its  plant,  eight-stamp  mill, 
five  amalgamating  pans,  sawmill  and  blacksmith  shop,  at  the 
foot  of  Big  (Owens)  Lake.  The  rock  is  hauled  from  the 
mines,  sixteen  miles  away.     J.  S.  Allen  is  superintendent. 

"At  Owens  River,  the  Union  mill  is  at  work;  eight-stamp; 
steam  used  here  and  at  Ida  mill,  a  mile  above. 

"At  Bend  City,  now  about  thirty  houses;  adobes.  This 
city  has  been  regularly  surveyed.  A  grand  ball  is  on  the 
tapis  for  Christmas  Eve.  The  most  work  has  been  done  by 
the  Clara  company.  Mt.  St.  George,  in  the  first  range  of 
hills  at  the  foot  of  the  Inyo  Range  adjoining  town,  appears 
to  be  a  complete  network  of  leads  of  the  richest  mineral.  The 
Clara  company  has  fourteen  claims.     With  regard  to  the  In- 

164  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

dians,  all  has  been  quiet  on  Owens  River  for  months  past, 
and  there  is  no  prospect  of  a  renewal  of  hostilities." 

A  San  Carlos  correspondent  mentions  the  first 
death  in  the  camp,  except  those  from  Indian  war- 
fare, as  that  of  a  man  named  Warner,  February 
11,  1864,  his  demise  resulting  from  an  accidental 
wound  in  the  arm.  The  marriage  of  Mr.  Woolsey 
to  Miss  Warner  (no  relative  of  the  deceased)  is 
mentioned  in  the  same  epistle — doubtless  the  first 
marriage  in  the  valley.  This  letter  predicts  great 
things  for  Keyes  District  and  the  Rubicon  mine, 
somewhere  in  the  later  Poleta  neighborhood. 

Owensville  was  for  a  few  years  the  chief  point 
in  the  northern  part  of  the  valley.  A  letter  from 
there  to  the  San  Francisco  Alta  California,  and 
published  in  December,  contained  the  following: 

"I  have  just  an-ived  with  a  party  of  fifty-six  men,  one 
family,  eighty-two  yoke  of  oxen  and  saddle  horses  innumer- 
able. The  valley  contains  fifty-two  claims  of  160  acres  each, 
and  Wm.  McBride  and  the  Hutchison  boys  have  surveyed  the 
Bishop  Creek  Valley  at  the  risk  of  their  lives.  Just  heard 
of  forty  men,  all  fanners,  and  twelve  ox  teams,  who  have 

Most  detailed  maps  of  the  time  designated  as 
"Bishop  Creek  Valley"  that  part  of  Owens  Valley 
north  of  Big  Pine  Creek. 

Another  letter,  in  a  later  issue  of  the  Alta, 
said : 

"A  few  months  ago  scarce  a  house  could  be  seen  through- 
out the  extent  of  this  valley,  but  now  animation,  life  and 
activity  greet  the  eye  wherever  you  look.  A  fine  settlement 
has  been  formed  at  Lone  Pine,  near  the  mouth  of  Owens 
River.  Bend  City  is  a  town  of  sixty  or  seventy  houses.  San 
Carlos  is  about  the  same  size,  and  both  rapidly  improving; 


while  further  up  the  river  Chrysopolis,  Galena,  Riverside 
(alias  Graham  City)  and  Owensville  are  raising  their  voices 
for  recognition." 

Other  ambitious  camps  mentioned  in  notes  of 
the  period  were  Benton,  Partzwick,  Yellow  Jacket, 
Camp  Enterprise  and  Montgomery,  all  in  what  is 
now  southern  Mono  County. 

Galena  and  Riverside,  or  Graham  City,  as  well 
as  Camp  Enterprise,  are  now  so  completely  buried 
in  oblivion  that  even  their  sites  cannot  be  learned 
by  the  inquirer. 

Owensville  was  on  the  east  bank  of  Owens 
River,  near  the  present  Laws.  A  circular  corral, 
standing  within  its  townsite,  is  built  of  stones  that 
once  served  as  foundations  for  Owensville  build- 
ings. A  little  to  the  northeast,  a  rough  slab  of 
stone  marks  the  grave  of  Mrs.  T.  H.  Soper,  who 
died  there.  No  other  trace  of  pioneer  habitation 
remains ;  the  old-time  streets  are  part  of  the  river 
bottom's  level  and  unbroken  meadow. 

John  Soper,  a  resident  of  the  place  when  his 
mother  died,  later  went  to  Hawaii  and  was  com- 
mander in  chief  of  the  military  forces  of  the  pro- 
visional government  of  Hawaii,  which  forces  de- 
throned Queen  Liluokalani  preceding  the  islands 
becoming  American.  In  correspondence  Gen. 
Soper  narrated  the  shooting  of  two  members  of  a 
gang  of  ruffians  from  Montana,  by  "Pap"  Rus- 
sell; also  the  unsuccessful  attempt  of  a  disrep- 
utable resident  to  organize  a  punitive  expedition 
against  the  Indians  because  two  old  squaws  had 
given  him  a  thrashing,  doubtless  deservedly. 

John  E.  and  Thomas  E.  Jones,  pioneer  settlers 

166  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

in  Round  Valley,  came  to  Owensville  in  1864. 
Notes  by  T.  E.  Jones  enumerate  many  of  its  resi- 
dents, among  them  the  father  and  mother  of  Rev. 
Andrew  Clark,  the  valley's  pioneer  minister;  their 
son  Thomas ;  the  Soper,  Gill  and  Hightower  fam- 
ilies ;  J.  L.  Garretson,  H.  Caleff,  J.  F.  and  Thomas 
K.  Hutchison,  A.  Thomson,  W.  P.  George,  William 
Horton,  W.  S.  Bailey,  Reuben  Merriman,  Frank 
Powers,  William  and  John  McBride,  nearly  all  of 
whom  were  well  known  in  Inyo  in  later  years,  and 
most  of  whom  ended  their  days  here.  George 
Hightower  and  wife  were  residents,  and  their 
daughter  Ada  was  the  first  white  child  born  in  this 
part  of  Owens  Valley.  John  B.  Wliite,  who  was 
murdered  at  Big  Pine  twenty-odd  years  later,  had 
a  saloon.  John  W.  McMurry  was  storekeeper, 
restaurant  man  and  postmaster.  He  chanced  to 
become  the  victim  of  an  accidental  shot,  getting 
a  bullet  from  a  burning  house  from  which  he 
was  saving  property.  He  recovered,  to  become  a 
leading  citizen  of  Big  Pine.  Andy  Ault  and  Jesse 
Spray  and  their  wives  were  among  the  arrivals 
from  Bridgeport.  Ault  took  the  liberty,  at  Adobe 
Meadows  on  the  way  down,  to  kill  an  Indian  whom 
he  suspected  of  having  stolen  his  pistol.  Whether 
or  not  he  felt  mortified  over  his  act  when  he  later 
found  the  gun  hanging  on  the  wall  under  a  gar- 
ment is  not  recorded. 

Milo  Page,  a  participant  in  many  of  the  hap- 
penings of  the  period,  told  of  a  Fourth  of  July 
celebration  in  Owensville  in  1864.  Will  Hicks 
Graham,  a  capable  lawyer  who  was  said  to  have 
been  Pat  Reddy's  instructor,  was  master  of  cere- 


monies  and  reader  of  the  declaration;  John 
Evans,  superintendent  of  the  Great  Eastern  min- 
ing company,  chaplain ;  W.  P.  George,  orator.  Mu- 
sic and  singing  by  the  seven  ladies  present  was 
much  appreciated  by  the  150  men  who  attended. 
The  instrument  used  was  a  portable  melodeon, 
belonging  to  and  played  by  Thomas  Soper.  There 
were  many  Southerners  among  the  men,  but  all 
joined  in  the  commemoration  regardless  of  the 
great  war  then  waging  between  the  States.  Still 
earlier  than  this,  on  May  1,  had  occurred  probably 
the  first  social  event  of  any  kind  in  the  northern 
part  of  the  valley,  a  dance  in  a  ten  by  twelve  adobe 
cabin.  One  of  the  institutions  of  the  place  was 
a  lodge  of  the  Sons  of  Temperance,  of  which  C.  C. 
Scott  was  the  head. 

Aurora  was  the  nearest  source  of  supplies. 
Communication  was  difficult,  and  stores  ran  low 
at  times.  During  such  a  period,  McMurry  refused 
an  offer  of  $20  for  a  sack  of  flour,  saying  that  he 
would  not  sell  it  for  $40,  as  he  would  need  it  for 
his  family.  A  pony  mail  service  was  started  by 
Daniel  Wellington,  and  W.  J.  Gill  was  the  rider. 
This  service  connected  at  Benton  and  Partzwick 
with  a  semi-weekly  pony  express  to  Aurora.  Each 
letter  had  to  bear  the  proper  postage  and  to  be 
accompanied  by  a  twenty-five  cent  payment  as 
recompense  to  the  mail  carrier. 

Owensville  looked  to  mines  in  the  White  Moun- 
tains for  its  upbuilding.  The  Golden  Wedge  mine, 
at  last  accounts  still  bearing  that  same  name  and 
now  included  in  a  group  known  as  the  Southern 
Belle,  was  the  first  find;  its  discoverers  were 

168  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

Charles  Nunn  and  Eobert  Morrison,  who  was  later 
killed  at  Convict  Lake.  Another  mine  not  wholly 
forgotten  was  the  Yellow  Jacket,  belonging  to  a 
company  organized  in  Gilroy,  California.  A  re- 
duction plant  was  built  on  Swansea  Flat  (Fish 
Slough)  by  an  Owensville  company  with  T.  H. 
Soper,  president;  H.  Caleff,  metallurgist;  John 
Soper,  H.  Chambers,  Gr.  Thomas,  Dawson,  Snooks, 
the  Round  Valley  Jones  brothers  and  another 
Jones  as  members.  An  arrastra  was  built  to  pul- 
verize supposedly  fireproof  material  transported 
to  the  scene  by  horse  and  ox-teams.  Even  barren 
quartz  was  crushed  and  brick  molded  from  it.  Al- 
leged fireproof  stone  was  hauled  from  Aurora. 
Almost  daily  specimens  were  brought  in  by  pros- 
pectors, and  Tom  Jones  records  that  Judge  Caleff 
usually  pronounced  them  '^very  fine  conglomera- 
tions of  argentiferous  galena. ' '  The  furnace  was 
completed,  and  melted  down  as  quickly  as  the  ore 
with  which  it  had  been  charged.  Undaunted,  the 
amateur  smelters  obtained  different  materials  and 
built  another  plant.  It  was  crammed  full  of  wood, 
charcoal,  ore  and  flux,  and  fired — and  in  a  few 
hours  was,  like  its  predecessor,  a  seething,  plastic 
pile  of  ruins.  It  may  be  noted  that  a  precisely 
similar  experience  befell  a  furnace  undertaking  by 
Greenly,  Edwards  and  others  that  same  year  at 
a  site  a  little  east  of  the  present  court  house  at 

Demands  for  lumber  were  met  by  the  erection 
of  a  sawmill  in  the  Sierras  near  Bishop,  by  John 
Pugh  and  Joe  Spear,  with  T.  D.  Lew^is  as  its  man- 
ager either  from  the  first  or  soon  after.  Machinery 


for  it  was  hauled  by  wagon  from  Stockton  by  Jolin 
Clarke,  at  a  freight  rate  of  twenty-five  cents  a 
pound.  After  the  decline  of  Owensville  this  lum- 
ber was  taken  from  its  buildings  and  rafted  down 
the  river  by  A.  A.  Riddle,  to  be  used  in  Indepen- 
dence and  Lone  Pine,  and  to  a  less  extent  in  Big 
Pine.  The  latter  settlement,  when  it  started,  had 
a  mill  nearer.  Bell  and  Slocum  having  returned 
in  1864  to  the  project  they  had  abandoned  under 
protest  the  year  before. 

Owensville 's  career  was  brief.  Its  corner  lots 
were  held  at  $1,000  and  even  $1,500  each  for  a 
short  time,  but  before  the  end  of  1864  some  of  its 
buildings  were  torn  down.  One  of  them,  the  black- 
smith shop  of  the  Consort  mining  company,  was 
bought  by  Clarke  and  moved,  becoming  the  first 
structure  of  any  kind  on  the  present  Bishop  town- 
site.  It  stood  a  little  distance  to  the  south  of  West 
Line  street  and  near  Main.  It  was  put  up  late  in 

During  the  quieter  portion  of  1863  a  beginning 
on  farm  work  was  made  not  far  from  Bishop.  W. 
P.  George  and  associates  put  in  a  truck  patch  a 
little  to  the  west.  Andrew  Thomson  broke  ground 
in  West  Bishop,  and  also  established  G.  W.  Norton 
on  a  place  a  mile  north  of  the  present  townsite. 
Tom  Evans  located  in  Pleasant  Valley.  It  is 
probable  that  similar  undertakings  were  begun  at 
Lone  Pine  that  year,  though  no  confirmation  of 
that  is  available.  A  little  patch  of  corn  was 
planted  at  Independence. 

One  of  the  companies  operating  in  the  White 
Mountains  bore  the  name  of  the  San  Francisco. 

170  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

A  ''town,"  called  Graham  City,  after  D.  S. 
Graham,  the  superintendent,  was  started  ''at  the 
foot  of  Keyes  District,  opposite  Bishop  Creek 
Valley, ' '  says  a  letter  of  the  time.  No  other  iden- 
tification is  obtainable,  though  its  prospects  were 
supposed  to  be  so  promising  that  a  correspondent 
of  the  Alta  wrote :  "Should  the  mines  (and  of  this 
there  appears  to  be  no  doubt)  turn  out  all  right, 
this  town  will  rival  Aurora  or  Virginia  itself  for 
population."  If  there  were  other  aspiring  settle- 
ments, not  herein  named,  north  of  Chrysopolis  at 
that  time  no  record  of  them  has  been  left. 

John  E.  and  Thomas  E.  Jones  decided  to  un- 
dertake ranching  in  Round  Valley,  and  sowed  the 
first  wheat  there  in  the  spring  of  1865.  They  had 
been  preceded  by  a  man  named  William  Frank, 
who  had  built  a  small  stone  cabin.  The  ranching 
experiment  did  not  do  well  the  first  year,  for  in 
June  the  tilled  acres  were  invaded  by  some  of  the 
many  hundreds  of  cattle  that  were  being  ranged 
in  that  neighborhood,  and  no  crop  was  grown  and 
harvested  until  the  following  season. 

San  Carlos  miners  had  provided  a  free  ferry 
across  the  river  at  their  camp,  a  little  north  of 
east  of  Independence.  The  equipment  was  rafts, 
hauled  back  and  forth  by  rawhide  ropes.  Bend 
City,  a  few  miles  farther  south,  was  the  center  of 
population  of  the  middle  part  of  the  valley  during 
the  latter  part  of  1864.  There  was  also  a  primitive 
ferry,  but  for  its  use  a  toll  was  collected.  The 
Bend  Cityites,  noting  the  free  ferry  at  San  Carlos, 
tired  of  paying  tolls,  especially  as  circulating  me- 
dium of  any  kind  was  scarce.    To  escape  this  con- 


dition,  it  was  decided  to  build  a  bridge  across  the 
river.  An  election  to  settle  its  location  was  held 
in  December,  and  sixty  votes  were  cast,  according 
to  the  report  of  Will  Hicks  Graham,  clerk. 

Mining  was  in  progress  for  miles  up  and  down 
that  part  of  the  range.  The  principal  mines,  from 
the  Chrysopolis  on  the  north  to  the  Union,  Ida 
and  New  York  on  the  south,  were  the  Green  Mon- 
ster, Clara,  Rothschild,  Owens  River,  Gray  Eagle, 
Maid  of  Erin,  White  Rover,  Drummer  Boy,  Cen- 
ter, Concordia  and  Santa  Rita. 

Nearly  all  of  the  sixty  or  more  houses  at  Bend 
City  were  adobe.  Among  them  were  two  hotels,  of 
which  the  Morrow  House  was  the  **  swell"  place. 
Five  stores  sold  goods ;  number  of  saloons  not  re- 
corded, but  unquestionably  ample.  A  circulating 
library  was  a  public  convenience  in  that  period  of 
scarce  reading  matter.  Even  a  stock  exchange  was 
among  the  institutions,  though  a  notation  of  a 
trade  in  which  a  burro  was  paid  for  a  block  of 
stock  does  not  indicate  brisk  transactions. 

I.  N.  Buckwalter  and  A.  C.  Robinson,  running 
a  tunnel  not  far  from  the  mouth  of  Mazourka  Can- 
yon, twice  lost  their  stores  of  provisions  through 
Indian  raids,  but  escaped  personal  harm.  Mr. 
Buckwalter  tells  of  paying  $2.50  to  a  cobbler  for 
nailing  on  a  bootheel,  using  three  sixpenny  nails 
and  three  minutes  of  time.  He  made  a  trip  to  the 
valley  in  August,  1915,  revisited  those  scenes,  and 
unearthed  a  number  of  mining  tools  which  he  had 
cached  when  leaving,  decades  ago. 

Bend  City  was  stirred  by  news  that  a  man 
named  William  Graves  had  shot  his  partner  dur- 

172  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

ing  a  row  beside  their  campfire,  in  Deep  Spring 
Valley.  A  vigilance  committee  was  formed,  but 
did  nothing.  Up  to  that  time  there  was  no  peace 
officer  of  any  kind  in  the  valley ;  the  Tulare  County 
officials  then  concluded  to  appoint  a  Justice  of  the 
Peace.  They  selected  John  Beveridge,  whose  name 
was  later  given  in  a  mining  district  easterly  from 
Lone  Pine,  as  Justice,  and  a  man  named  Kendall 
as  Constable. 

In  September,  1863,  a  second  killing  nearer 
home  gave  the  vigilantes  occasion  to  act.  Men 
named  Mitchell  and  Cuddy  had  disputed,  and 
Cuddy  had  vowed  to  kill  the  other.  Knife  in  hand 
he  crossed  the  street  of  San  Carlos  and  was  shot 
and  instantly  killed  by  Mitchell,  who  fired  from 
within  John  Lentell's  store.  Mitchell  was  taken 
into  custody.  T.  F.  A.  Connelly  acted  as  prose- 
cutor, and  the  Alta's  correspondent,  Campbell, 
served  as  attorney  for  the  accused.  A  delegation 
of  the  vigilantes  appeared  and  demanded  to  be  al- 
lowed to  remain  during  the  hearing;  otherwise 
they  would  take  Mitchell  and  themselves  dispose 
of  the  case.  Consent  being  given,  they  remained, 
and  at  its  close  took  a  vote  among  themselves. 
They  were  unanimous  in  declaring  it  to  have  been 
a  case  of  self-defense.  The  court  did  not  hold  the 
same  opinion,  however,  for  he  held  Mitchell  for 
trial  in  Visalia.  Constable  Kendall  proposed  to 
make  his  prisoner  walk  the  whole  distance,  he  him- 
self riding  on  horseback.  Members  of  the  com- 
mittee found  it  necessary  to  compel  more  humane 
treatment.  Mitchell  was  discharged,  after  remain- 
ing in  the  Visalia  jail  for  a  few  months. 


White  Mountain  City  and  Roachville  were  set- 
tlements just  over  the  White  Mountain  summit 
from  Owens  Valley,  in  that  White  Mountain  Dis- 
trict which  had  been  used  for  fraudulent  election 
purposes  in  1861.  A  writer  visiting  there  early  in 
1864  tells  all  that  we  know  of  these  would-be  min- 
ing centers;  the  ''city"  from  which  he  wrote  was 
on  Wyman  Creek,  on  the  Deep  Spring  slope;  its 
rival,  Roachville,  was  on  Cottonwood  Creek,  and 
was  named  by  its  proprietor,  William  Roach,  hail- 
ing from  Santa  Cruz.  Both  places  had  regularly 
surveyed  town  plats.  S.  (no  doubt  Scott)  Broder 
was  the  District  Recorder. 





Formation  of  new  counties  in  California  is 
now  dependent  on  a  comparatively  large  popula- 
tion, the  idea  apparently  being  that  all  sections  of 
the  State  are  fairly  well  supplied  with  local  gov- 
ernment. Railroads,  telegraphs  and  automobiles 
have  annihilated  distance.  It  was  very  different 
in  the  '60 's.  The  sparse  and  widely  separated 
communities  were  days  apart  in  communication; 
the  latter  was  limited  to  horse-flesh  as  a  means 
of  travel ;  there  were  no  telegraphs  in  the  outlying 
regions;  and  the  whole  west  was  lawless  enough 
at  the  best.  Only  a  liberal  policy  of  county  crea- 
tion could  provide  any  civil  control  over  tens  of 
thousands  of  square  miles  of  territory.  Maps  of 
that  period  show  counties  duly  outlined,  but  with- 
out a  single  place  prominent  enough  to  be  noted. 

Mono  had  been  officially  created  in  1861.  It 
was  presumed  to  include  the  booming  camp  of 
Aurora ;  but  when  a  corrected  survey  proved  that 
Aurora  was  outside  of  its  borders  the  county's 



population  was  so  small  that  the  first  census  there- 
after gave  it  a  total  of  but  430,  Indians  included. 
AVitli  this  and  other  examples  before  them,  Owens 
Valleyans  did  not  hesitate  to  petition  the  Legisla- 
ture, in  February,  1864,  to  create  a  county  on  this 
slope  south  of  Mono.  It  was  proposed  to  name 
the  county  Monache,  to  make  San  Carlos  its 
county  seat,  and  to  establish  the  northern  bound- 
ary near  Mono  Lake.  But  when  the  petition 
reached  the  Legislature  and  in  accordance  with  it 
a  bill  was  introduced,  the  name  given  was  Coso, 
Big  Pine  Creek  was  designated  as  the  northern 
line,  and  Bend  City  was  selected  as  the  seat  of 
government  until  such  time  as  an  election  might 
decide  differently.  This  was  to  be  determined  by 
an  election  set  for  June  6,  1864,  at  which  time  a 
full  corps  of  county  officers  was  to  be  chosen.  E. 
S.  Sayles,  Gr.  J.  Slocum,  D.  C.  Owen,  John  E. 
Hughes  and  John  Lentell  were  named  as  commis- 
sioners to  designate  precincts,  name  election  of- 
ficers, canvass  returns,  and  do  other  things 
necessary  to  start  the  new  machinery,  they  to  co- 
operate with  a  county  judge  to  be  appointed  by 
Governor  Low.  The  Governor  offered  the  position 
to  Dr.  S.  G.  George,  but  he  declined  it.  Owens 
Valleyans  favored  0.  L.  Matthews,  but  no  ap- 
pointment was  made. 

The  population  of  the  proposed  county  was 
overwhelmingly  Eepublican.  A  convention  of  that 
political  faith  was  called,  and  met  in  San  Carlos 
about  May  24th.  Any  one  who  stated  himself  to 
be  a  Republican  was  admitted  and  allowed  full 
voice  in  proceedings.     The  result  of  an  orderly 

176  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

and  harmonious  session  was  the  nomination  of 
W.  A.  Greenly  for  Sheriff,  John  Thorn  for  Clerk, 
Abraham  Parker  for  Treasurer  and  W.  S.  Mor- 
row for  Attorney. 

Whether  because  of  neglect  or  some  other  rea- 
son not  now  known,  the  election  was  not  held 
June  6th.  As  the  law  gave  no  authority  for  hold- 
ing it  at  any  other  time  the  whole  organization 
went  by  default. 

Another  law  passed  at  the  legislative  session 
that  sought  to  establish  Coso  County  chartered  a 
corporation  under  the  name  of  the  Owens  River 
Canal  Company,  for  constructing  canals  for 
transportation  of  passengers  and  freight  and  for 
using  Owens  River  for  irrigation  and  water 
power.  The  company  was  granted  the  right  to 
improve  the  river  canyon  and  to  collect  tolls  for 
a  period  of  fifteen  years.  Its  rates  were  to  be 
fixed  by  the  Supervisors  of  Mono  County,  but 
were  to  be  such  that  the  estimated  revenues  would 
yield  2  per  cent  per  month  on  the  investment. 
Mono  was  to  have  the  right  to  take  up  the  invest- 
ment after  ten  years  if  the  county  so  desired.  R. 
S.  Whigham,  Speer  Riddle,  William  Fleming, 
William  P.  Pratt  and  Isaac  Swain  were  named  as 
trustees  of  the  company.  No  more  was  ever  heard 
of  the  project. 

These  gropings  toward  local  self-government 
and  permanency  were  broken  into  by  further 
threats  of  Indian  troubles.  The  abandonment  of 
Camp  Independence  the  year  before  had  been 
highly  unwelcome  to  the  settlers.  Particularly 
after  the  Merriam  affair  the  white  people  avoided 


the  neighborhoods  which  Joaquin  Jim,  most 
dreaded  among  the  Indian  leaders,  claimed  as  his 
own.  During  the  latter  part  of  1864  depreda- 
tions began  once  more,  and  lone  white  men  were 
picked  off  when  it  could  be  done  safely.  One 
such  instance  was  in  the  Black  Eocks.  A  Visalian 
named  Watkins  brought  a  band  of  horses  into 
the  valley  and  located  not  far  from  Black  Eock 
Spring.  His  position  was  isolated,  and  he  fell  an 
easy  prey.  This  event  and  others  pointing  to  a 
fresh  outbreak  led  to  the  sending  of  petitions  to 
General  McDowell,  then  commanding  at  the  Pre- 
sidio. McDowell  could  not,  or  at  least  did  not, 
spare  any  troops  for  Owens  Valley.  Learning  this, 
many  residents  struck  out  for  safer  climes;  the 
remaining  inhabitants  determined  to  fight  the 
issue  to  a  finish.  They,  and  not  the  soldiers, 
ended  the  Indian  war.  The  return  of  a  military 
force  after  the  last  killing  of  natives  at  Owens 
Lake,  and  the  maintenance  of  that  force  for  a 
dozen  years  afterward,  doubtless  had  a  useful 
part  in  preventing  subsequent  outbreaks. 

The  citizens  of  Owensville  organized  with  Will 
Hicks  Graham  as  captain,  and  at  Bend  City  W.  L. 
C'Dad")  Moore  and  W.  A.  Greenly  were  selected 
to  lead  the  volunteer  forces. 

Among  the  miners  who  ventured  into  the 
mountains  believing  that  hostilities  were  over 
were  three  named  Crow,  Mathews  and  Byrnes. 
They  located  a  claim  which  they  called  the  Cin- 
derella, at  a  point  about  four  miles  from  the  Gil- 
bert ranch,  east  of  the  White  Mountains.  On 
November  21st,  1864,  Mathews  was  cooking  din- 

178  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

ner  while  his  partners  were  at  the  claim.  An 
Indian  and  squaw  came  to  the  camp  and  asked 
for  something  to  eat.  As  Mathews  turned  to  get 
them  something,  the  Indian  shot  him  through 
the  jaw.  About  the  same  time  a  shot  ended  the 
life  of  Crow,  working  at  the  mine  windlass.  His 
body  either  fell  into  the  shaft  or  was  thrown  in 
by  the  Indians.  Byrnes,  60  or  70  feet  below, 
was  kept  busy  dodging  rocks  w^ith  which  the  at- 
tackers tried  to  kill  him,  but  by  dextrous  use  of 
liis  shovel  he  managed  to  fend  off  the  missiles. 
Believing  their  purpose  accomplished  the  Indians 

Mathews  had  been  wounded,  but  not  enough 
to  prevent  his  fighting.  When  he  opened  fire  the 
two  who  had  attacked  him  ran  away.  He  was  sure 
his  partners  had  been  killed,  and  determined  to 
strike  out  for  Owens  Valley.  He  had  a  rifle,  a 
shotgun  and  a  revolver,  but  soon  threw  away  both 
of  the  large  weapons.  It  took  him  two  agonizing 
days  to  get  over  the  mountains,  his  sufferings  be- 
ing intensified  by  lack  of  water.  Beaching  Owens 
River,  he  fell  into  shallow  water  while  trymg  to 
get  a  drink.  This  loosened  the  clotted  blood  in 
his  mouth  and  throat — a  relief  on  which  he  dwelt 
in  narrating  the  circumstances.  The  attention  of 
a  horseman  was  attracted,  and  Mathews  was 
taken  to  a  ranch  where  Big  Pine  now  is.  For 
many  days  he  was  fed  through  a  cowhorn,  and  at 
last  he  recovered  his  general  health.  He  was 
never  afterward  free  from  some  effects  of  his 
wound,  however ;  to  the  day  of  his  death,  in  Round 
Valley  twenty-four  years  later,  his  speech  was 


intelligible  to  only  a  few.  He  had  been  in  Cali- 
fornia since  1831. 

"WTiile  Mathews  was  escaping,  Byrnes  was 
prisoned  in  the  shaft  with  the  body  of  Crow  for 
company.  The  Indians  had  taken  away  the  wind- 
lass rope.  Joe  Bowers,  Indian  chieftain,  came  to 
the  place  soon  afterward  and  found  means  of 
lowering  water  to  Byrnes,  then  came  across  the 
mountains  and  told  the  whites  what  had  occurred. 
S.  Gr.  Gregg  went  as  far  as  Lone  Pine  and  gathered 
a  party  of  thirty  men  to  rescue  Byrnes.  The 
latter  had  been  in  the  shaft  five  days  when  he  was 
hauled  out.    The  body  of  Crow  was  buried  there. 

Now  mark  the  ingratitude  of  the  man  whose 
life  Joe  had  saved.  The  Piute  leader  had  his 
home  camp  at  a  place  called  Antelope  Springs. 
A  few  years  subsequently  Byrnes  decided  that  he 
needed  the  land  and  water  more  than  Joe  Bowers 
did,  so  he  drove  the  latter  away.  Joe  went  to 
Independence  and  told  his  loyal  white  friends, 
who  formed  a  posse  and  forced  Byrnes  to  vacate. 
Fourteen  also  joined  in  an  agreement  to  support 
Joe,  as  a  reward  for  his  friendship  and  services 
during  the  Indian  troubles,  and  thenceforward 
he  was  quarterly  supplied  with  provisions  and 
clothing.  Capt.  MacGowan,  a  later  commandant 
at  Camp  Independence,  employed  him  as  a  scout. 
The  departure  of  the  soldiers  from  Owens  Valley, 
when  the  post  was  finally  abandoned,  dropped  Joe 
from  the  payroll,  but  left  him  with  a  claim  to  a 
six  dollar  pension.  This  was  regularly  collected 
by  S.  G.  Gregg  and  used  for  the  old  Piute's  wel- 
fare.    Signing  the  receipt  for  this  (with  an  X) 

180  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

was  an  important  ceremony  for  the  beneficiary. 
He  was  taken  to  San  Francisco  in  1871  to  see  the 
wondrous  achievements  of  the  white  man,  and 
attracted  no  little  attention.  During  the  early 
70 's,  a  reception  given  to  a  land  officer  who  had 
engineered  a  land  steal  caused  a  burlesque  of  the 
affair  to  be  given  in  Joe 's  honor,  at  which  he  was 
presented  with  a  hat,  a  pipe  and  tobacco,  and 
made  a  speech  admitting  his  own  merits.  He  died 
early  in  this  century  in  Deep  Spring  Valley. 

It  is  not  to  be  inferred  that  Joe  was  a  second 
Uncas  in  virtues.  He  had  many  of  the  failings  of 
his  people,  and  one  of  the  chief  cares  of  his  white 
friends  was  to  see  that  he  did  not  gamble  away 
what  they  provided  for  his  welfare.  He  took  a 
moral  view  of  things,  and  his  condemnations  of 
intemperance  and  other  vices  were  more  pic- 
turesque and  forcible  than  adapted  for  polite  ears. 
He  had  foreseen  more  clearly  than  his  fellows  the 
ultimate  success  of  the  whites,  and  appreciated 
the  advantages  they  possessed.  He  was  always 
their  friend,  sometimes  at  his  own  peril,  and  was 
respected  by  his  own  people  as  well. 

The  murder  of  Mrs.  McGuire  and  her  little  son 
at  Haiwai,  and  the  settlers'  retribution  in  Indian 
lives,  were  with  one  exception  the  last  items  of 
Indian  warfare. 

The  waters  of  Haiwee  reservoir  of  the  Los 
Angeles  aqueduct  system  now  cover  lands  known 
in  pioneer  days,  and  for  years  later,  as  Haiwai 
Meadows.  (Haiwai  is  the  Indian  word  for  dove.) 
To  those  meadows,  25  miles  south  of  Owens  Lake, 
came  in  1864  a  man  named  McGuire,  with  his 


wife  and  six-year-old  son.  They  established  a 
little  way  station,  which  received  the  patronage 
of  the  scant  travel  between  Visalia  and  Owens 
Valley.  The  hostess  endeared  herself  to  all  who 
came,  and  her  bright  little  son  was  a  favorite. 
On  the  last  day  of  1864  two  men  were  at  the 
place.  Their  names  as  given  by  H.  T.  Eeed, 
whose  letter  written  a  few  days  later  is  principally 
followed  in  the  details  of  which  he  professed  to 
be  well  informed,  were  Newman  and  Flanigan. 
Another  account  calls  them  O'Dale  and  Kitt- 
ridge — which  may  be  remarked  to  somewhat 
resemble  the  names  Coverdale  and  Ethridge,  of 
earlier  Inyo  record.  McGuire  had  occasion  to  go 
to  Big  Pine  for  a  plow,  and  asked  them  to  remain 
until  he  returned.  Before  daylight  of  the  follow- 
ing morning,  January  1,  1865,  the  occupants  of 
the  house  were  awakened  by  fire,  and  found  that 
the  roof  was  blazing.  The  men  ran  out,  but  on 
being  fired  on  ran  back  into  the  house.  They 
commenced  knocking  off  shingles  from  the  inside, 
and  by  using  what  water  was  at  hand  and  the 
brine  from  several  barrels  of  corned  beef  had 
nearly  extinguished  the  fire  when  the  attack  was 
renewed  with  firebrands,  stones  and  shots.  The 
heat  became  so  intense  that  to  remain  inside  was 
impossible.  The  men  urged  Mrs.  McGuire  to  run 
with  them  and  endeavor  to  escape;  she  refused, 
saying  that  nothing  could  save  them  and  it  would 
be  no  use.  Flanigan  and  Newman,  unwilling  to 
share  her  peril,  ran,  escaping  with  a  wound  in 
the  forehead  of  one  and  a  shot  through  the  hat 
of  the  other.    Says  Reed's  letter:  ''They  arrived 

182  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

here  (at  Little  Lake,  17  miles)  at  11  a.  m.,  New- 
man weak  from  loss  of  blood  and  both  nearly 
exhausted. ' ' 

Walter  James  and  John  Harmon,  southbound, 
reached  Haiwai  that  forenoon.  Smoke  was  still 
rising  from  the  burned  dwelling.  A  hundred  feet 
or  more  from  it  was  Mrs.  McGuire,  with  fourteen 
arrows  in  her  body,  mercifully  insensible  and  with 
but  a  little  span  of  life  remaining.  The  little  boy 
was  dead.  His  tiny  hand  clasped  a  stone,  indicat- 
ing a  spirit  of  defense  to  the  last.  Six  arrows 
had  pierced  his  body,  and  had  been  pulled  out  by 
his  mother.  Quoting  Eeed  again,  ''Both  Mr.  and 
Mrs.  McGuire  had  done  more  for  the  Indians  than 
they  were  able,  often  denying  themselves  to  feed 
them.  Her  loss  is  deeply  felt  by  all,  and  no  one 
who  ever  stopped  there  will  fail  to  remember  the 
hearty  welcome  and  the  happy  face  of  bright  little 
Johnny  and  his  noble  mother." 

The  bodies  of  the  victims  were  placed  in  a 
wagon  box  and  James  remained  to  guard  them 
while  Harmon  hurried  back  to  Owens  Lake.  A 
messenger  was  sent  to  Lone  Pine,  where  the 
bodies  were  brought  that  day  for  burial. 

Some  pioneers  who  were  implacable  foes  of 
the  Indians  acquitted  the  latter  of  guilt  for  this 
atrocity,  maintaining  that  it  was  the  deed  of  the 
two  white  men.  Reed's  letter  indicates  no  such 
doubt,  however,  nor  does  any  other  account  or 
reference  at  the  time  nor  the  later  story  of  it 
written  in  a  letter  by  W.  L.  Moore.  The  arrows 
found  and  the  trail  followed  by  the  avengers  sup- 
ported the  white  fugitives'  story.     The  unmanly 


and  selfish  cowardice  of  those  men  received  ample 
comment  in  the  accounts  at  that  time. 

A  dozen  or  more  men,  headed  by  W.  L.  Moore 
and  W.  A.  Greenly,  immediately  started  for 
Haiwai,  camping  near  Olancha  that  night.  The 
next  day  they  went  to  Haiwai  and  took  np  the 
trail  of  a  party  of  fifteen  or  sixteen  Indians  until 
it  divided  among  the  sand  hills  east  of  the 
meadows.  Some  of  the  natives  had  started 
southerly  to  the  Kern  River  trail,  the  rest  going 
northerly  and  east  of  Owens  Lake.  From  the 
dividing  point  the  citizens  returned  to  Haiwai, 
and  Moore  and  Thos.  Passmore  (each  of  whom 
later  became  Sheriff  and  each  of  whom  was  killed 
in  the  discharge  of  official  duty)  took  up  the  trail 
of  Newman  and  Flanigan.  On  the  way  they  picked 
up  a  loaded  rifle,  a  little  further  on  a  loaded  pistol, 
and  still  further  along  a  shotgun  with  one  barrel 
loaded.  The  trail  was  followed  to  Little  Lake, 
where  the  two  men  were  found.  They  told  the 
stor>^  as  here  written.  They  were  told  to  leave 
the  country  at  once  and  not  to  return,  under 
penalty  of  death. 

"When  Moore  and  Passmore  returned  to  Haiwai 
the  party  went  to  Coso,  reaching  that  settlement 
January  3d.  The  Mexican  miners  who  composed 
its  population  showed  no  disposition  to  aid  in  any 
way  or  to  accommodate  the  Americans.  The  lat- 
ter wasted  scant  ceremony  in  supplying  the  needs 
of  themselves  and  their  animals.  Returning  toward 
the  valley,  the  Lidian  trail  was  again  picked 
up,  and  followed  directly  to  an  Indian  camp  near 
the  lake  shore  east  of  the  river's  mouth.  The 
party  rode  on  past  the  camp  to  Lone  Pine. 

184  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

Four  Piute  prisoners  were  being  held  in  that 
settlement.  Some  of  the  citizens  advocated 
slaughtering  them  forthwith;  others  objected. 
Subsequent  proceedings  are  narrated  by  a  pio- 

"During  the  discussion  one  of  the  Indians  saw  a  chance  to 
run,  and  did  so,  escaping  at  least  a  score  of  shots  until  Dick 
Mead  jumped  on  a  horse  and  overtook  and  killed  the  fugi- 
tive. Thos.  May  and  John  Tilly  took  the  remaining  prisoners 
to  Tilly's  house  for  safe  keeping  during  the  night.  One,  out- 
side with  May,  made  a  break  for  liberty  and  was  shot.  Those 
in  the  house,  hearing  the  shot,  also  undertook  to  escape,  when 
Tilly  killed  one  with  a  blow  from  a  six-shooter  and  May  shot 
the  other." 

A  general  council  of  whites  was  held  at  Lone 
Pine,  and  it  was  determined  to  inflict  a  crushing 
blow  on  the  natives  by  destroying  their  settle- 
ment near  the  mouth  of  Owens  River.  A  day  or 
two  was  spent  in  gathering  a  force,  which  left 
Lone  Pine  during  the  night  of  January  5th  to 
reach  the  lake  camp  by  daylight  of  the  6th. 
Greenly  and  Moore  were  selected  as  commanders ; 
with  them  were  Passmore,  Tilly,  Chas.  D.  Begole, 
Thos.  May,  T.  F.  A.  Connelly,  Dick  Mead,  R.  M. 
Shuey,  H.  Meyer,  John  Kispert,  F.  W.  Fickert 
(later  a  prominent  rancher  of  the  Tehachipi  re- 
gion), James  Heffner,  Haslem,  McGuire  (husband 
of  the  murdered  woman),  Rogers  (whose  shocking 
ending  will  be  presently  recorded).  Green  Hitch- 
cock and  three  or  four  of  his  brothers,  Charles 
Robinson,  and  others  to  a  total  strength  of  thirty- 

The  plan  was  for  Greenly 's  detachment  to  cross 


the  river  and  guard  against  escape  to  the  east- 
ward, while  Moore's  party  was  to  attack  the  camp. 
Snow  covered  the  ground.  The  Indians,  unsus- 
picious of  danger,  had  no  sentries,  and  were  asleep 
in  their  camp  when  the  attack  began.  Greenly 's 
three-mile  detour  was  not  allowed  for,  and  Moore 
and  his  men  had  practically  concluded  the  bloody 
work  before  Grreenly  appeared. 

According  to  the  judgment  of  those  who  had 
trailed  the  Indians  from  Haiwai,  eight  or  ten  of 
the  perpetrators  of  that  atrocity  were  in  the  lake 
camp.  For  their  guilt  the  whole  village  popula- 
tion, of  whom  at  least  three-fourths  were  innocent 
of  any  possible  participation  in  the  Haiwai  deed, 
were  ruthlessly  slaughtered — as  the  whites  would 
have  been  had  circumstances  been  reversed. 
Neither  age  nor  sex  were  spared  among  the 
forty-one  who  died  there.  Six  Indians  had  taken 
to  the  icy  waters  of  the  lake.  The  account  by 
Fickert  said  that  two  squaws  and  two  little  boys 
were  permitted  to  come  out  alive ;  that  of  T.  F.  A. 
Connelly  said  that  three,  a  boy  and  his  two  sisters, 
were  spared.  McGuire  shot  two  bucks  in  the 
water.  The  boy,  aged  about  fourteen,  was  shot 
at,  and  asked  in  English  why  they  wanted  to  kill 
him.  He  said  he  had  not  hurt  any  one.  Heffner 
told  him  that  if  he  would  come  out  he  would  not 
be  hurt.  The  boy  also  said  his  two  sisters  were 
in  the  lake,  and  was  bidden  to  tell  them  to  come 

By  this  time  the  Greenly  subdivision  had  come 
up.  Some  in  each  party  were  anxious  to  do  away 
with  the  young  captives.   Heffner  asked  how  many 

186  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

would  stand  with  him  in  protecting  them,  and 
about  half  declared  in  his  favor.  The  wrangle 
threatened  to  result  in  bloodshed  among  the  citi- 
zens, when  Mead  requested  all  who  favored  spar- 
ing the  children  to  stand  with  him.  Two-thirds 
of  the  company  moved  to  his  side,  after  which 
there  was  no  further  argument.  The  girls  were 
taken  as  far  as  the  foot  of  the  lake  and  there 
released.     Heffner  adopted  the  boy. 

This  version  faithfully  follows  accounts  given 
to  the  author,  personally  or  by  letter,  by  several 
of  the  men  who  were  present,  and  narratives 
written  by  others  within  a  few  years  of  the  oc- 
currence. This  fact  is  mentioned  because  this 
affair,  more  than  any  other  occurrence  of  the  In- 
dian war,  was  distorted  and  garbled  in  California 
papers  at  the  time.  Some  of  the  reports  then  pub- 
lished contradict  themselves,  when  read  by  any 
one  who  knows  the  country.  Some  other  state- 
ments they  contain  may  or  may  not  have  been 
true,  no  other  light  having  been  obtained.  One 
was  that  an  Indian  had  Mrs.  McGuire's  purse, 
with  a  few  dollars  in  money ;  this  is  probably  false, 
as  the  McGuire  house  was  not  raided.  Another 
was  that  one  of  the  slain  Indians  had  a  rifle  which 
had  belonged  to  William  Jones,  a  miner,  said  to 
have  been  killed  in  the  White  Mountains  two  weeks 
before.  Large  quantities  of  freshly  painted  ar- 
rows were  said  to  have  been  found  in  the  camp; 
no  account  given  to  the  writer  mentioned  such  a 
find,  though  it  may  have  been  made. 

Apparently  a  little  earlier  than  the  Owens  Lake 
affair,  a  sortie  by  a  white  expedition  resulted  in 


the  killing  of  seventeen  Indians  near  the  stream 
now  known  as  Division  Creek,  north  of  Independ- 
ence. Two  prisoners  at  Camp  Independence  were 
shot  by  a  man  named  McVickers,  who  said  they 
were  attempting  to  escape. 

January  3d  a  white  force  of  seventeen  men 
went  to  the  Black  Rocks  and  found  that  the  Piutes 
had  burned  the  camps  and  fled  to  the  mountains, 
killing  cattle  as  they  went. 

A  little  earlier  than  this,  probably  in  the  fall 
of  1864,  an  Indian  Agent  had  visited  the  valley, 
accompanied  by  a  Lieutenant  Daley,  who  re- 

"The  Indian  supplies  are  not  good,  and  most  of  the  In- 
dians have  left  for  the  mountains.  The  Indian  Agent  invited 
them  to  come  in;  sixteen  came,  who  said  they  had  been  mal- 
treated. Said  the  whites  would  not  pay  the  Indians  who 
worked  for  them.  I  learned  from  Mr.  Maloney,  one  of  the 
present  proprietors  of  Camp  Independence,  that  settlers 
would  go  to  Tule  River  reservation  for  Indians  to  come  and 
work,  and  when  they  got  through  would  decline  paying  them 
and  drive  them  away.  The  Indians  said  they  would  retaliate 
and  drive  the  whites  out." 

Reed,  heretofore  quoted,  wrote  that  Daley's 
report  was  not  founded  on  fact,  and  that  he  knew 
of  no  single  instance  where  the  Indians  had  been 
treated  wrongfully.  Nor  does  it  look  reasonable, 
in  view  of  all  the  trouble  that  had  occurred,  that 
any  settler  would  go  as  far  off  as  Tule  River  in 
order  to  bring  back  more  Indians  with  whom 
he  planned  to  have  further  difficulty.  The  migra- 
tion to  the  mountains  was  probably  for  pine-nut 

The  Union  mill  was  burned  during  that  winter. 

188  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

but  whether  by  Indians  is  not  clear.  Out  in  the 
desert  conditions  still  remained  dangerous.  While 
it  is  possible  that  a  lone  prospector  now  and  then 
paid  the  penalty  of  being  too  venturesome,  only 
one  other  item  of  warlike  action  has  been  recorded. 
It  was  two  years  later ;  though  out  of  chronologi- 
cal order  it  is  here  included  to  complete  the  story 
of  warfare. 

A  raid  was  made  by  Indians  on  the  "Spanish 
mines,"  (probably  Cerro  Gordo,  then  inhabited  by 
a  few  Mexicans),  on  March  4,  1867.  One  of  the 
miners  was  killed,  and  everything  portable  was 
taken  away.  Cattle  and  horses  had  been  killed  at 
the  lake  just  before.  On  March  7th  a  detachment 
of  twelve  cavalrymen,  under  Sergeant  F.  R.  Neil, 
was  sent  from  Camp  Independence,  to  pursue  and 
if  possible  chastise  the  offenders.  Owing  to  the 
immense  amount  of  snow  on  the  eastern  moun- 
tains the  pursuit  to  the  desert,  when  the  Indians 
had  come,  could  not  be  made,  and  the  soldiers 
returned  to  Thomas  Franklin's  ranch  near  Owens 
Lake.  Franklin  offered  to  guide  the  party,  and 
at  3  o'clock  on  the  morning  of  March  12th  the 
start  was  made.  It  was  expected  that  the  Indians 
would  be  found  at  Coso  Hot  Springs,  but  they 
were  not  there.  The  route  was  then  to  ''Rainy 
Springs  Canyon,"  twenty  miles  distant,  where 
*'sign"  was  found.  About  4:30  in  the  afternoon 
the  rancheria  was  reached,  on  a  slope  surrounded 
by  large  pine  trees.  The  troopers  dismounted 
and  took  a  trail  made  by  squaws  in  carrying  water 
to  their  camp.  As  the  party  reached  the  summit 
of  the  slope  each  party  saw  the  other,  and  firing 


began.  The  white  men  charged  while  the  reds 
fled  to  positions  behind  rocks.  The  chief,  Cap- 
tain Barbe,  handled  his  men  skillfully,  and  ex- 
posed himself  too  bravely,  for  he  was  shot  and 
killed.  The  troopers  were  formerly  of  Sheridan 's 
army,  veterans  in  war,  and  they  drove  the  enemy 
from  rock  to  rock,  killing  four  warriors  besides 
the  chief,  and  wounding  others.  Returning  to  the 
rancheria,  which  was  the  best  appointed  and  pro- 
visioned the  men  had  seen,  the  soldiers  found  many 
articles  known  to  have  been  stolen  from  whites; 
among  them  was  a  pistol  known  to  have  been 
taken  the  preceding  fall  when  an  attack  was  made 
on  a  mine.  After  destroying  the  camp,  the  ex- 
pedition started  for  Owens  Lake,  where  it  arrived 
after  a  continuous  ride  of  90  miles.  Thomas 
Franklin,  whose  account  is  here  given,  wrote  that 
although  he  was  a  heavy  loser  from  Indian  depre- 
dations, he  felt  that  he  had  satisfaction. 

During  January,  1865,  Company  C,  com- 
manded by  Captain  Kelly  (who  was  alleged  to 
have  won  his  commission  from  Nevada's  Gover- 
nor in  a  poker  game),  reached  the  vicinity  of  the 
present  town  of  Bishop  and  remained  until  April, 
when  on  peremptory  orders  the  company  went  on 
to  Camp  Independence.  That  post  was  then  con- 
tinuously garrisoned  until  its  abandonment  in 
1877.  The  soldiers  were  sent  out  against  the 
Piutes  but  once  more,  in  1870.  A  company  went 
to  Round  Valley;  its  presence  sufficed,  and  there 
was  no  fighting.  The  Indian  attitude  was  defiant 
and  sullen  for  some  years.  The  conflict  of  tribal 
customs  and  of  white  opinions  regarding  the  kill- 


190  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

ing  of  Indian  doctors  threatened  trouble  as  late 
as  1877,  when  the  dominant  race  undertook  to 
punish  murders  of  condemned  medicine  men. 

It  has  been  noted  that  one  Indian  leader  never 
did  submit  to  white  rule.  Joaquin  Jim,  while  he 
ceased  marauding,  remained  aloof  to  the  end  of 
his  days.  The  Indian  story  was  he  came  to  his 
death,  some  years  after  the  war,  from  overeating 
some  special  tribal  delicacy ;  the  white  version  was 
that  he  was  killed  by  one  of  his  own  warriors. 
Another  so-called  Joaquin  Jim  appeared  at  Tule 
Eiver  reservation  in  1863  to  be  treated  for  wounds 
received  in  Owens  Valley.  A  squad  of  soldiers 
from  Camp  Babbitt  went  to  arrest  him,  but  he 
saw  them  coming,  fled,  and  was  pursued  and 
killed.  ''The  body  was  found  with  a  number  of 
fresh  wounds  and  many  scars.  Joaquin  Jim  was 
known  to  have  murdered  two  white  men  in  cold 
blood,  and  had  fought  desperately  in  several  bat- 
tles," said  a  published  report.  Nevertheless,  that 
Indian  was  not  the  noted  leader  of  the  southern 

Perhaps  it  is  not  the  business  of  a  record  of 
this  character  to  philosophize  on  the  Indian  war 
subject.  The  facts  as  nearly  as  they  can  be  had 
have  been  set  down ;  the  comments  of  men  writing 
at  the  time,  some  for,  some  against,  the  natives, 
have  been  impartially  given.  Probably  it  will 
lead  to  a  conclusion  that  the  whites  were  not  all 
free  from  wrong;  that  the  Indian's  resistance  to 
trespassing  on  the  domain  that  had  always  been 
his  was  but  natural;  that  however  pathetic  the 
native's  displacement  as  overlord,  the  white  dom- 


ination,  here  as  elsewhere,  and  its  making  use  of 
resources  which  to  the  Indian  meant  much  less 
than  the  comfortable  living  the  conquerors  have 
brought  him,  were  inevitable  and  necessary. 

Residents  of  Owensville  estimated  the  total 
death  list  of  the  war,  so  far  as  they  knew  it,  to  be 
60  whites  and  about  250  Indians. 




Re-establishment  of  a  garrison  at  Camp  In- 
dependence, together  with  the  severity  of  lessons 
given  to  the  Indians  on  every  provocation,  justi- 
fied white  settlers  in  believing  that  their  su- 
premacy in  Owens  Valley  would  not  be  again  dis- 
puted. Almarin  B.  Paul,  writing  from  Kearsarge 
May  5,  1866,  said:  "It  is  now  fully  as  safe  to 
travel  up  and  down  the  valley,  as  far  as  Indians 
go,  as  it  is  in  the  streets  of  Sacramento  or  San 
Francisco.  The  worst  class  of  Indians  who 
formerly  made  this  valley  their  hunting  ground 
have  moved  farther  eastward.  Those  who  are  in 
the  valley  prefer  peace  and  to  work,  which  they 
do  for  fifty  cents  a  day  and  hogadie."  Increased 
activity  in  prospecting  and  in  settlement  began. 
Grrowth  was  slow,  nevertheless.  Visalia  and  Los 
Angeles,  to  the  south,  and  Aurora,  to  the  north, 
were  the  nearest  places  of  importance.  Each  was 
over  200  miles  away,  reached  by  trying  roads. 
Besides,  the  whole  West  was  yet  in  the  explora- 
tion period,  and  the  idea  of  encouraging  immi- 



gration  had  not  been  evolved.  Five  years  later, 
the  census  of  1870  showed  a  total  Inyo  population 
of  but  1956,  of  whom  most  were  Indians. 

Land  entries  had  been  made  in  1863.  Jacob 
Nash  and  E.  D.  French  filed  on  claims  near 
Olancha,  March  9th ;  John  M.  George  located  near 
Lone  Pine,  April  2d;  James  A.  Brewer  located 
at  Greorge's  Creek,  May  21st;  J.  C.  White  did 
likewise  at  Independence,  June  5th.  None  of  these 
claims  were  perfected.  The  oldest  completed  claim 
in  the  valley  was  that  of  Thos.  Edwards,  for  land 
on  which  the  townsite  of  Independence  was  lo- 
cated. W.  L.  Moore,  who  with  Chas.  D.  Begole  as 
his  partner  had  lived  in  the  vicinity  of  Lone  Pine 
for  some  years,  filed  on  land  there  July  17,  1867. 
The  pioneer  claims  at  Big  Pine  were  made  during 
the  last  few  months  of  1869  by  Duncan  Campbell, 
Fred  Eeinhakel,  W.  F.  Uhlmeyer  and  S.  G.  Gregg. 
Record  of  the  settlement  of  Bishop  lands  is  not 
available,  beyond  the  fact  that  the  users  of  Bishop 
Creek  water  in  1870  numbered  34,  among  them 
some  of  the  pioneers  who  had  taken  part  in  the 
exciting  events  of  a  few  years  before.  The  land 
filing  dates  given  are  from  land  office  records; 
perhaps  in  most  instances,  as  in  that  of  Moore,  the 
claimants  had  previously  exercised  a  squatter 
right  on  the  tracts  to  which  they  sought  to  estab- 
lish title. 

Most  of  the  early  settlements  ''just  growed," 
a  la  Topsy.  Independence  townsite  plat  is  the 
oldest  now  to  be  found  on  the  county  records.  Its 
survey,  made  at  the  instance  of  Thomas  Edwards, 
was  completed  February  13,  1866,  and  recorded 

194  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

May  12, 1867.  Few  other  places  now  existent  were 
platted  until  they  had  attained  some  permanency. 
Laws,  originally  Bishop  Station,  was  surveyed  on 
the  building  of  the  railroad,  some  of  its  lots  being 
where  the  primitive  cabins  of  Owensville  had 
stood.  Keeler  was  also  laid  out  when  the  railroad 
was  built;  whether  its  name  should  be  Keeler  or 
Hawley  was  for  some  time  an  unsettled  question. 
Darwin  was  also  one  of  the  earlier  surveyed  town- 

To  go  slightly  ahead  of  the  story.  Bend  City 
faded  away,  its  site  ere  many  years  marked  by 
only  piles  of  crumbled  adobes  through  which  the 
road  from  Independence  to  its  railroad  depot 
passed.  San  Carlos  vanished  even  more  com- 
pletely, though  its  mill  was  not  torn  down  until 
1876.  Long  thereafter  a  lone  smokestack  stood 
to  show  where  the  camp  had  been.  Owensville, 
by  that  name,  lost  its  last  inhabitant  in  1871. 

An  incident  unique  in  its  revolting  depravity 
occurred  in  1865.  E.  M.  King,  who  claimed  to 
have  been  a  preacher,  had  located  on  a  piece  of 
ground  near  Owens  Lake,  on  the  Visalia  road,  and 
kept  a  place  at  which  wayfarers  were  fed.  There 
came  to  this  place,  in  June,  1865,  J.  N.,  better 
known  as  ''Hog,"  Rogers.  His  uncomplimentary 
designation  was  conferred  because  of  his  being 
in  the  pork-raising  business  in  western  Tulare.  He 
was  one  of  the  citizens  at  the  Owens  Lake  massa- 
cre that  January.  When  he  arrived  at  King's, 
he  had  with  him  $1,500,  the  proceeds  of  selling 
property  at  Owensville. 

A  little  later  travelers  named  Snow  and  Dear- 


bom  tarried  with  King,  who  waited  on  and  fed 
them.  During  the  meal,  of  which  they  heartily 
partook.  King  asked  them  if  they  knew  what  kind 
of  meat  they  had  been  eating.  They  replied  that 
they  supposed  it  was  pork.  "Well,  that's  some 
of  old  Rogers"  was  the  startling  enlightenment 
given.  It  developed  that  King  had  killed  Rogers, 
made  a  razor  strop  from  a  strip  of  his  skin,  and 
had  cut  his  flesh  into  pieces,  some  of  which  were 
then  drying  on  the  place.  Other  portions  of  the 
body  had  been  fed  to  chickens.  Snow  and  Dear- 
bom  hastened  to  Independence,  and  after  their 
story  had  been  told  a  party  w^ent  to  the  lake  and 
captured  the  murderer.  He  was  brought  to  Inde- 
pendence, but  escaped  from  there  and  went  to 
Visalia,  where  he  adopted  the  name  of  Butterfield. 
He  was  recognized  by  some  one  from  Owens  Val- 
ley, arrested,  tried  and  found  guilty,  and  was 
hanged  in  Visalia  by  the  Sheriff,  December  7, 
1865,  the  second  legal  execution  in  Tulare  County. 
He  made  a  full  confession. 

A  sawmill  was  cutting  lumber  near  Big  Pine, 
and  another  was  established  northwest  of  Inde- 
pendence. Up  to  that  time  the  lumber  used  there 
had  been  cut  by  whipsaws.  Among  those  who 
had  been  cutting  in  the  primitive  way  were 
Thomas  W.  Hill,  G.  W.  Cornell  and  A.  Kittleson, 
camped  at  what  was  long  known  as  Todd's,  now 
Gray's  Meadows,  a  few  miles  west  of  Indepen- 
dence. Hardships  of  the  period  were  graphically 
related  by  Mr.  Hill  to  the  author  during  the  course 
of  a  day's  railroad  journey  together.  The  need 
for  haste  in  gathering  the  reminiscences  of  the 

196  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

old-timers  was  singularly  illustrated  in  his  case, 
for  tlie  old  pioneer  died  of  heart  failure  before  he 
left  the  car  that  evening. 

Cattle  ranged  all  over  the  valley,  Mr.  Hill  said. 
Owners  knowing  that  Indians  would  take  the  stock 
as  opportunity  favored,  gave  settlers  permission 
to  do  the  same.  There  being  no  local  agriculture 
of  any  consequence,  and  outside  communication 
being  uncertain  or  worse,  the  roving  cattle  were 
often  the  sole  reliance  for  food.  Even  if  farming 
had  been  seriously  undertaken,  that  was  a  spe- 
cially discouraging  season,  for  it  is  said  that  the 
year  1864  was  so  dry  that  in  midsummer  Little 
Pine  Creek  was  so  low  that  its  water  did  not  get 
down  to  Independence. 

Hill  and  his  partners  had  raised  a  little  corn 
in  their  mountain  nook,  and  from  it  ground  four 
sacks  of  meal,  using  coffee  mills  as  machinery. 
It  was  agreed  among  them  that  the  chance  of  get- 
ting other  supplies  was  so  slender  that  none  of 
the  meal  should  be  sold.  One  day  while  Hill  was 
alone  in  the  camp,  a  man  came  from  Bend  City 
with  the  statement  that  his  wife  and  children  had 
nothing  to  eat  and  he  did  not  know  where  to  get 
food  for  them.  Finally  Hill  said:  **We  agreed 
not  to  sell  any  of  this  meal,  and  I'm  not  going  to 
do  it.  I'm  going  to  the  creek  after  some  water, 
and  if  there  happens  to  be  a  sack  missing  when  I 
get  back  I  won't  do  much  hunting  for  it."  His 
back  was  scarcely  turned  when  he  heard  his  visi- 
tor's wagon  clattering  away — and  that  evening 
Hill  had  to  account  for  the  meal. 

The  men  prospected  from  their  camp.    In  the 


fall  of  1864  they  with  Thomas  May  and  C.  McCor- 
mack  discovered  promising  croppings.  Shortly 
before,  sympathizers  with  the  South  in- the  Civil 
War  had  named  the  Alabama  hills,  near  Lone 
Pine,  in  evidence  of  their  gratification  at  the  de- 
structive career  of  the  Confederate  privateer 
Alabama.  Having  the  ending  of  that  career  by 
the  Kearsarge  fresh  in  mind,  Hill  and  his  part- 
ners, staunch  Unionists,  evened  it  up  by  calling 
their  claim  after  the  Union  battleship.  Other  dis- 
coveries, including  the  Silver  Sprout  and  Vir- 
ginia, were  made  on  the  slopes  of  the  great  peak 
which  took  the  name  of  its  first  mine.  Four  tons 
of  Kearsarge  ore  were  sent  to  Ball's  mill,  near 
Ophir,  Nevada,  and  netted  $900  a  ton.  The 
phenomenal  find  attracted  attention,  and  a  con- 
trolling interest  was  sold  to  Charles  Tozier, 
Almarin  B.  Paul,  D.  L.  Bliss,  Chas.  Vangorder, 
I.  L.  Requa  and  John  Gillig — all  men  of  promi- 
nence then  and  later  in  coast  financial  and  mining 
circles.  Systematic  development  of  the  claims 
began  in  1865,  and  by  the  end  of  that  year  quite 
a  camp  had  arisen  in  the  canyon  at  the  western 
base  of  Kearsarge 's  highest  rise. 

Though  isolated  by  storms  and  snows,  the  little 
camp  passed  safely  through  most  of  the  winter. 
Came  February,  1866,  with  storms  worse  than  any 
that  had  preceded.  Snow,  whirled  by  gales,  flew 
in  clouds  over  all  the  foothills,  and  still  more 
violently  about  Kearsarge  Peak  and  the  cabins 
nestling  under  its  shoulder.  New-fallen  snow 
massed  on  the  smooth  surface  of  the  earlier  coat- 
ings of  the  winter,  and  began  to  shoot  down  the 

198  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

steep  declivities.  Kearsarge  camp  escaped  dam- 
age until  the  afternoon  of  March  1st,  when  an 
avalanche  buried  the  larger  part  of  it,  sweeping 
away  a  number  of  cabins  and  a  life  with  them. 

Messengers  went  at  once  from  the  houses  which 
were  undamaged,  making  hard-won  progress  to 
Hill's,  Camp  Independence  and  Bend  City.  Every 
available  man  answered  the  summons.  Hill,  Kit- 
tleson  and  Cornell  being  the  first  to  reach  the 
scene.  Occupants  of  destroyed  cabins  were  ac- 
counted for  until  that  occupied  by  mine  foreman 
C.  W.  Mills  and  his  wife  was  reached.  The  house 
had  been  crushed  until  no  trace  of  it  could  be 
seen  above  the  snow.  After  some  digging  a  part 
of  the  rough  stone  wall  was  found.  Hill  was  the 
first  to  grasp  a  bit  of  cloth,  part  of  the  dress  en- 
closing the  lifeless  form  of  Mrs.  Mills.  Death 
had  come  with  so  little  warning  that  her  stiffened 
fingers  still  grasped  a  needle  and  the  thread  that 
she  was  about  to  place  in  it.  Search  for  the  body 
of  Mills  was  about  to  be  abandoned  when  a  man 
known  as  ''Crazy"  insisted  on  keeping  up  the 
hunt.  Mills  was  finally  found,  barely  alive,  and 
with  a  broken  leg.  He  recovered.  E.  Chaquette 
and  wife  occupied  a  house  in  the  edge  of  the  slide's, 
path.  A  dog's  barking  caused  him  to  look  out  in 
time  to  see  the  avalanche  coming.  He  caught  up 
his  wife  and  ran,  and  escaped  so  narrowly  that 
the  edge  of  the  slide  caught  him  and  broke  his  leg. 

The  population  of  Kearsarge  moved  that  night 
to  Hill's,  and  preparations  for  safer  stopping 
places  were  made  the  next  day.  Development  of 
the  mine  went  on  unchecked.    To  follow  to  a  con- 


elusion  the  fortunes  of  the  property :  The  owners 
incorporated,  and  in  the  summer  of  1866  the  com- 
pany built  a  ten-stamp  mill  at  a  cost  of  $40,000. 
The  Silver  Sprout  mill,  in  the  same  vicinity,  was 
already  at  work,  and  some  Kearsarge  ore  was 
worked  in  it.  Almarin  B.  Paul,  later  notable  in 
coast  mining  affairs,  was  superintendent.  The 
bullion  produced  was  sent  to  Gold  Hill,  with  an 
escort  of  soldiers.  When  it  was  found  to  net  but 
121/2  cents  an  ounce  Paul  quit  in  disgust,  and  I.  L. 
Requa  became  superintendent,  with  D.  P.  Pierce 
in  direct  charge.  Pierce 's  first  working  produced 
$60  per  ton  of  ore.  He  had  found  the  company 
$15,000  in  debt  when  he  took  hold.  After  a 
month's  smooth  running,  and  when  he  began  to 
be  hopeful  of  success,  creditors  demanded  that 
the  bullion  be  turned  over  to  them.  Pierce,  in- 
tending to  use  the  proceeds  to  settle  affairs  in  his 
own  way,  hid  it.  The  matter  got  into  the  courts 
and  a  receivership  was  ordered.  Finally  the  prop- 
erty passed  to  other  owners,  with  Greorge  Stead 
as  manager.  One  of  his  first  acts  was  to  sell  to 
the  miners  the  ore  that  was  then  on  the  dump  and 
at  the  mill.  Some  of  this  was  sorted  and  sent  to 
San  Francisco,  where  it  yielded  over  $700  a  ton. 
Stead  soon  left,  and  his  successor,  D.  P.  Low, 
bought  from  the  creditors  what  ore  remained,  pay- 
ing them  $40  a  ton.  Some  of  it,  specially  selected, 
brought  $700  a  ton,  and  the  average  was  $140  a 
ton.  Another  change  in  the  scrambled  affairs 
of  the  company  occurred  in  1869.  The  ore  con- 
tinued to  prove  its  value,  fifty  tons  of  it  averaging 
$165,  while  the  average  of  all  that  was  worked 

200  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

from  the  mine  was  $60.  Managements  came  and 
went  for  a  number  of  years ;  and  for  all  the  rich 
returns  that  were  reported  the  old  mine  showed  a 
balance  on  the  wrong  side  of  the  ledger  and  was 
virtually  abandoned  by  the  company,  passing  to 
other  hands. 





Musty  records  show  that  for  a  little  time  the 
Mormons  had  hopes  of  ruling  the  Great  Basin  as 
far  westward  as  the  summit  of  the  Sierra  Nevada 
Mountains,  including  the  area  now  comprised  in 
Inyo  County.  In  March,  1849,  they  held  a  con- 
vention in  Salt  Lake  City  and  (so  far  as  they 
could)  organized  the  '*  State  of  Deseret."  It  in- 
cluded the  present  Utah,  Nevada,  Arizona,  some 
of  Colorado,  some  of  Oregon,  southern  California 
as  far  north  as  Santa  Monica,  eastward  and  north- 
ward through  half  of  Kern  County  through 
Tulare,  to  and  across  the  summit  of  the  Sierras, 
and  along  the  latter  range.  This  took  in  our 
present  county  as  well  as  others  further  north 
and  east  of  the  mountains.  This  liberal  claim  of 
territory  was  denied,  so  far  as  California  was  con- 
cerned, by  the  Act  admitting  this  State  into  the 
Union  and  ratification  of  its  constitution  prescrib- 
ing the  boundaries  as  they  now  exist.  That  the 
Mormons  meant  business  in  their  claim  was  indi- 
cated by  an  invitation  to  "the  inhabitants  of  that 


202  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

portion  of  Upper  California  lying  east  of  the 
Sierra  Nevada  Mountains"  to  participate  in  their 
convention.  Needless  to  say  that  there  was  no 
response  from  any  of  the  country  south  of  Lake 
Tahoe,  at  least.  What  prompted  the  Californians 
to  ordain  their  line  southeasterly  through  the 
desert,  including  the  utterly  unknown  region  be- 
tween it  and  the  Sierras,  is  but  surmise. 

When  people  of  western  Utah  held  a  mass 
meeting  at  Genoa,  August  8,  1857,  and  prepared 
a  petition  asking  Congress  to  organize  a  new  Ter- 
ritory, separate  from  Utah,  they  looked  on  the 
Sierras  as  their  natural  boundary  and  suggested 
that  the  range  be  made  the  western  boundary  of 
their  soon-to-be  Nevada.  This  too  was  disre- 
garded in  defining  the  lines  established  by  the 
enabling  act. 

The  greater  part  of  the  present  Inyo  County 
was  within  the  lines  set  in  1852  for  Tulare,  and 
that  county  exercised  what  little  jurisdiction 
existed,  south  of  Big  Pine  Creek.  Owens  Valley 
north  of  that  stream  had  been  allotted  to  Mono 
when,  in  1861,  it  was  created  from  ''those  portions 
of  Calaveras,  Mariposa  and  Frezno  counties  lying 
east  of  the  summit  of  the  Sierra  Nevado  Moun- 

The  unsuccessful  effort  to  establish  Coso 
County  has  been  set  forth.  Owens  Valley's 
scattered  settlers  memorialized  the  next  Legisla- 
ture, and  on  February  17,  1866,  Assemblyman  J. 
E.  Goodall  of  Mono  and  Tuolumne,  introduced  a 
bill  to  establish  Inyo  County.  It  passed  without 
opposition.    It  prescribed  the  boundaries  as  had 


the  Coso  County  bills,  the  Sierra  summit  on  the 
west,  State  line  on  the  east,  the  line  until  then 
bounding  Tulare  on  the  south,  and  on  the  north 
* '  down  the  middle  of  Big  Pine  Creek  to  its  mouth, 
thence  due  east  to  the  State  line."  Bend  City 
had  waned,  and  Independence  was  named  in  its 
stead  as  the  seat  of  government  until  the  citizens 
should  decide  otherwise.  Kearsage  was  the 
largest  precinct.  Thomas  J.  Goodale,  L.  F. 
Cooper,  W.  A.  Greenly,  W.  A.  Baker  and  Lyman 
Tuttle  were  designated  as  commissioners  to  form 
precincts,  name  election  officers,  canvass  returns, 
and  so  on.  The  date  of  election  was  set  for 
March  3d.  The  creating  act  did  not  become  law 
until  March  22d,  so  the  v/hole  proceeding  would 
have  been  null  but  for  the  provision,  prompted  by 
the  experience  in  the  Coso  County  effort,  that  in 
case  the  election  was  not  held  on  the  day  set  it 
might  be  called  at  any  time  within  one  year. 

Salaries  of  the  officers  of  the  proposed  county 
and  their  official  bonds  were  set  as  follows: 
County  Judge,  salary  $1,000;  District  Attorney, 
$500  salary,  $2,000  bond;  Supervisors,  each  $300 
salary,  $1,000  bond.  The  Sheriff,  whose  bond  was 
$7,000;  Clerk,  bond  $3,000;  Treasurer,  bond 
$10",000;  Assessor,  bond  $1,000;  Coroner,  bond 
$2,000 ;  and  Surveyor,  bond  $2,000,  were  all  to  be 
paid  according  to  a  general  State  law  enacted  in 
1855.  That  the  whole  salary  and  fee  schedule  was 
on  a  modest  scale  is  apparent  from  the  statement 
that  the  Assessor's  pay  was  $8  per  day  during 
the  time  he  was  actually  employed  in  official  duties, 
and  the  Superintendent's  compensation  was  $150 
per  year. 

204  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

Inyo  was  attached  to  the  County  of  Mono  for 
Assembly  district  purposes,  and  to  that  and  a 
number  of  other  counties  in  judicial  district  mat- 

One  provision  of  the  Act  required  the  appoint- 
ment of  two  commissioners  to  confer  with  a  like 
number  from  Tulare  to  arrange  for  the  new  county 
to  take  over  its  proportion  of  the  Tulare  county 
debt.  No  record  has  been  found  proving  that  this 
was  ever  done. 

The  organization  election  was  held  some  time  in 
May — exact  date  not  ascertainable  from  records. 
The  officers  elected  were  W.  A.  Greenly,  Sheriff; 
Thomas  Passmore,  Clerk;  John  T.  Ryan,  As- 
sessor; John  Lentell,  Treasurer;  Lyman  Tuttle, 
Surveyor;  B.  D.  Blaney,  Coroner;  Josiah  Earl, 
Superintendent  of  Schools ;  John  R.  Hughes,  John 
R.  Westerville  (properly  Westervelt)  and  C.  D. 
Begole,  Supervisors.  John  Beveridge  was  elected 
District  Attorney  but  did  not  qualify,  and  Thomas 
P.  Slade  was  appointed  to  that  position.  0.  L. 
Matthews  had  been  appointed  County  Judge,  by 
Governor  Low. 

The  Supervisors  convened  in  Independence 
May  31st,  and  elected  Hughes  chairman.  An 
election  was  ordered  to  be  held  June  16th,  to 
choose  township  officers.  The  townships  then 
established,  the  polling  places  designated  and  the 
small  vote  subsequently  cast  indicate  the  limita- 
tions of  population  of  the  new  county. 

First  township:  Polling  places,  George 
Shedd's  house  at  Fish  Springs,  Oro  Fino  Co. 'a 
office  at  Chrysopolis.    Election  officers  J.  S.  Gill, 


E.  M.  Goodale  and  M.  Stewart,  and  E.  S.  Whig- 
ham,  Wm.  Pedlar  and  Wm.  Fleming  respectively 
at  the  two  points.  In  a  total  vote  of  15,  Fleming 
was  elected  Justice  and  Jack  Shepherd  and  P. 
Green,  Constables. 

The  Second  township  had  also  two  polling 
places:  at  Kearsarge,  where  votes  were  counted 
at  M.  J.  Byrne's  house  and  the  election  officers 
were  M.  Meagher,  Samuel  McGee  and  W.  J.  Lake ; 
and  the  Independence  schoolhouse,  with  S.  P.  Mof- 
fatt,  R.  Hilton  and  J.  G.  Payne  as  officers.  The 
whole  vote  of  the  townhip  was  56,  and  the  officers 
elected  were  J.  J.  Mankin  and  S.  L.  McGee  Jus- 
tices and  Wm.  J.  Lake  and  Wm.  Wallace  Con- 

In  the  Third  township  voters  cast  their  ballots 
at  Begole  and  Moore's  house,  with  A.  C.  Stevens, 
Lyman  Tuttle  and  Robert  Law  as  election  officers. 
Four  of  the  twenty  voters  were  put  into  official 
positions — R.  M.  Shuey  and  J.  J.  Moore  as  Jus- 
tices and  N.  F.  Coburn  and  Peter  Peerson  as 

Appointment  of  George  Shedd,  J.  G.  Payne 
and  Reuben  Van  Dyke  as  Road  Overseers,  com- 
pleted the  government  of  Inyo  County. 

While  the  salary  set  for  the  County  Judge 
was  small,  his  duties  generally  corresponded.  His 
jurisdiction  was  between  that  of  the  Justice  and 
the  District  Court.  The  latter  corresponded  to  the 
present  Superior  Court,  except  that  its  judge  had 
several  counties  in  his  district.  Judge  Matthews ' 
first  case  was  a  murder  affair,  that  of  E.  H.  Rogers 
for  killing  Theodore  Bayer;  the  next  two  were 


206  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

of  the  kind  termed  ^' civil,"  and  tlie  fourth  was  a 
bankruptcy  proceeding.  He  went  through  his  term 
without  having  occasion  to  sentence  a  felon,  the 
first  commitment  to  San  Quentin  being  made  by 
Judge  A.  C.  Hanson  in  1869,  when  a  grand  lar- 
cenist  "went  below"  for  three  years. 

Three  school  districts  were  established.  One 
included  all  the  county  north  of  Independence; 
Independence  and  vicinity  was  the  second,  and  the 
southernmost  included  all  territory  "south  of  the 
first  section  line  south  of  J.  W.  SjTiimes."  It 
would  appear  that  the  Supervisors  looked  on  Mr. 
Symmes  as  a  fixture. 

In  the  county  vaults  at  Independence  is  a  small 
morocco-covered  book  on  whose  few  sheets  of 
foolscap  paper  are  the  early  records  of  the  Super- 
visors. A  critical  reader  would  find  it  to  be  more 
incomplete  in  details  than  would  now  be  sanc- 
tioned ;  for  example,  public  roads  were  designated 
as  "running  from  Bend  City  to  Kearsarge," 
"from  Independence  to  the  northern  line  of  the 
county,"  "from  Cerro  Gordo  to  the  summit  of  the 
Sierra  Nevada  Mountains."  Those  descriptions 
sufficed  to  be  understood  at  the  time,  probably  bet- 
ter than  if  they  had  been  sprinkled  with  survey 
figures  and  "thences." 

In  the  winter  of  1866-7  A.  N.  Bell  built  a  flour- 
ing mill  on  Oak  Creek.  It  was  burned  April  12, 
1870,  and  rebuilt  soon  afterward. 

When  the  election  of  1867  came,  Chrysopolis 
was  wholly  dead,  and  its  voting  precinct  was 
abolished;  Kearsarge  was  also  dropped  from  the 
list.    Cerro  Gordo  had  started,  and  was  recognized 


as  a  precinct.  Some  growth  was  indicated  by  a 
vote  of  31  votes  at  Fish  Springs,  115  at  Inde- 
pendence, 53  at  Lone  Pine  and  7  at  Cerro  Gordo. 
The  county's  vote  was  close  politically,-  Phelps, 
Eepublican,  for  Congress,  receiving  102,  Axtell, 
his  Democratic  opponent,  104.  The  vote  on  county 
officers  was  as  follows : 

Sherife— Thos.  May,  86;  W.  L.  Moore,  123. 

Clerk— C.  L.  Jackson,  95 ;  S.  P.  Moffatt,  113. 

Treasurer — Isaac  Harris,  96 ;  A.  N.  Bell,  108. 

Attorney— F.  K.  Miller,  103;  Thos.  P.  Slade, 

Assessor — A.  C.  Stevens,  106;  S.  L.  McGee, 

Surveyor — ^Lyman  Tuttle,  107;  Jack  Dow,  98. 

Superintendent — C.  M.  Joslyn,  106;  Josiah 
Earl,  98. 

Coroner — A.  Farnsworth,  104;  John  A.  Lank, 

Supervisor  First  District — J.  W.  McMurry, 
16;  J.  W.  Westerville,  14. 

Judges  were  chosen  at  a  separate  election,  at 
which  A.  C.  Hanson  defeated  John  Alexander,  102 
to  84  for  County  Judge,  and  the  county  gave  96 
votes  for  Theron  Reed  for  District  Judge  to  93  for 
L.  F.  Cooper. 

Changes  in  the  official  corps  were  frequent  dur- 
ing the  first  few  years.  It  appears  to  have  been 
considered  courteous  and  proper  for  the  Sheriff 
whose  term  was  about  to  end  to  resign  in  order 
that  his  elected  successor  might  acquire  a  little 
experience.  Greenly  resigned  in  November,  1867, 
and  W.  L.  ('^Dad")  Moore  was  appointed  for  the 

208  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

month  between  then  and  his  own  term  by  election. 
Two  years  later,  he  in  turn  resigned  just  before 
being  succeeded  by  Elder.  The  District  Attor- 
ney's office  was  subject  to  frequent  changes. 
Beveridge  failed  to  qualify,  after  the  first  elec- 
tion, and  Slade  was  appointed.  Slade  was  re- 
elected, and  resigned.  Pat  Reddy  was  appointed, 
but  did  not  qualify,  and  Paul  W.  Bennett  was  ap- 
pointed. Beveridge  was  again  elected  in  1869, 
and  again  failed  to  qualify,  and  Bennett  was  again 
appointed.  Passmore  tried  the  Clerkship  for  a 
year  before  he  resigned  and  Moffatt  was  ap- 
pointed. Stevens  served  as  Assessor  for  a  year, 
quit,  and  was  succeeded  by  L.  A.  Talcott.  Farns- 
worth.  Coroner,  was  hardly  more  than  sworn  in 
before  he  made  way  for  John  A.  Lank.  A  brief 
experience  in  public  office  seems  to  have  been  suf- 
ficient for  most  of  the  old-timers ;  it  was  no  more 
than  an  even  chance  whether  any  one  elected  would 
serve  out  his  term. 

In  the  election  of  1869,  the  successful  candi- 
dates were  A.  B.  Elder,  Sheriff;  S.  P.  Moffatt, 
Clerk;  Greo.  W.  Brady,  Assessor;  John  Beveridge, 
Attorney;  Isaac  Harris,  Treasurer;  Lyman  Tut- 
tle.  Surveyor;  J.  W.  Symmes,  Superintendent  of 
Schools;  John  A.  Lank,  Coroner;  John  Shedd  and 
John  Shepherd,  Supervisors. 

A  report  of  conditions  in  1867  said  that  2,000 
acres  of  land  had  been  enclosed,  of  which  half 
was  cultivated.  Barley  was  the  principal  crop. 
Independence  had  a  population  of  100.  Fourteen 
quartz  mills,  ten  of  them  steam  driven,  were  oper- 
ating in  the  county,  dropping  130  stamps  and  rep- 


resenting  a  $350,000  investment.  The  San  Carlos 
Canal,  to  be  15  miles  long  and  to  cost  $30,000, 
was  proposed.  Mention  of  the  names  of  streams 
included  Indian  (George's),  Sycamore  (Alabama 
hills)  and  Little  Pine  creeks.  It  was  estimated 
that  there  were  500  voters  in  the  county.  A  road 
across  Kearsage  Pass  was  advocated. 

Nothing  has  been  unearthed  from  county  rec- 
ords to  show  who  first  served  as  teachers  of  the 
children  of  Inyo's  huge  districts.  Designation  of 
the  schoolhouse  at  Independence  as  the  polling 
place  for  the  precinct  in  the  election  of  1866  is  the 
only  available  proof  of  the  existence  of  a  school 
at  that  time.  In  that  same  year  the  first  school 
was  begun  in  northern  Owens  Valley,  then  part  of 
Mono  County.  Only  one  white  child  was  in  the 
Bishop  vicinity  in  the  early  months  of  the  year, 
until  in  March  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Joel  H.  Smith  and 
their  six  children  arrived.  The  coming  of  other 
families  led  to  Mrs.  Smith  opening  a  school,  sup- 
ported by  subscription.  The  first  public  school 
teacher  north  of  Independence  was  Milton  S. 

Among  the  Owensville  inhabitants  were  Mr. 
and  Mrs.  Thomas  Clark.  Their  sons  came  soon 
afterward;  one  of  them  was  Rev.  Andrew  Clark, 
with  his  family.  That  pioneer  minister  and  his 
brothers  had  served  in  the  nation's  army  on  Shi- 
loh's  bloody  field  and  elsewhere  during  the  Civil 
War;  and  with  the  coming  of  peace  they  looked 
to  the  West.  Sincere  in  convictions,  Mr.  Clark 
arranged  for  a  church  organization;  and  on  Jan- 
uary 1,  1869,  he  and  six  others  established  the 

210  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

Baptist  Church  at  Bishop  Creek,  as  the  settlement 
was  then  called.  This  was  the  first  religious  soci- 
ety in  eastern  California.  The  Methodists  sent 
their  first  resident  minister,  Eev.  E.  H.  Orne,  to 
Independence  as  the  central  point  of  the  ' '  Owens 
River  Charge"  two  years  later.  These  pioneer 
laborers  in  the  cause  of  Christianity  underwent 
virtually  all  the  hardships  of  the  * '  circuit  riders ' ' 
of  the  mid-West,  for  they  held  services  regularly 
all  the  way  from  Cerro  Gordo  to  Benton,  and  in 
Deep  Springs  Valley. 

Temperance  societies  were  first  among  frater- 
nities in  this  field.  Existence  of  the  Sons  of 
Temperance  at  Owensville  has  been  noted.  That 
body's  career  was  brief.  Next  in  secret  society 
pioneering  was  St.  Orme's  Lodge  of  Good  Tem- 
plars, in  Round  Valley  in  1869,  soon  reinforced 
by  Oasis  Lodge  of  the  same  order  at  Bishop. 

Placer  gold  was  found  on  Big  Pine  Creek  in 
1869.  The  first  taken  was  a  two-ounce  nugget. 
Some  placer  mining  was  done  there  and  some  in 
the  foothills  west  of  Bishop  during  later  years. 

During  the  season  of  1869  the  valley's  esti- 
mated production  of  grain  was  250  tons ;  the  lands 
in  cultivation  amounted  to  5,000  acres.  Flour 
for  home  consumption  was  being  ground  in  home 
mills,  and  lumber  cut  in  the  nearby  foothills  was 
being  used  for  buildings.  Seven  steam  and  two 
waterpower  quartz  mills  were  dropping  100 
stamps  regularly,  and  four  furnaces  and  twenty 
arrastras  were  helping  to  swell  the  mineral  pro- 
duction of  the  region. 

A    bill    was    introduced    in    the    Legislature, 


passed,  and  approved  by  Governor  Haiglit,  March 
28,  1870,  changing  the  northern  boundary  of  Inyo 
County  from  Big  Pine  Creek  to  the  line  between 
townships  five  and  six  south  of  Mt.  Diablo  base 
line.  In  consideration  of  the  transfer  of  territory 
from  Mono  to  Inyo,  provision  was  made  for  a 
payment  of  $12,000  to  the  former  county.  This 
was  payable  $3,000  annually,  beginning  January, 
1871.  The  last  of  the  debt  was  not  paid,  however, 
until  1875.  i 

The  precise  location  of  the  boundary  between 
the  two  counties  was  in  dispute  until  a  survey 
was  made  by  J.  G.  Thompson,  of'  Mono,  in  1876. 
Prior  to  that  the  neighbor  county  had  laid  claim 
to  a  large  part  of  Round  Valley,  and  finding  out 
that  the  claim  was  not  well  founded  caused  mucJi 
resentment,  particularly  in  Benton,  then  a  camp 
of  considerable  importance  and  liveliness. 

One  other  slight  change  in  boundary  lines  was 
made  in  1872.  The  southern  line,  as  inherited 
from  Tulare,  ran  a  little  south  of  westerly  from 
the  Nevada  line.  The  new  code  description 
changed  it  to  a  straight  east-and-west  line.  This 
took  a  few  miles  of  Sierras  from  us  and  in  return 
gave  us  jurisdiction  over  a  few  more  square  miles 
of  desert  inferno  at  the  far  southeastern  corner 
of  the  county. 

While  these  were  the  final  changes,  that  fact 
is  not  due  to  lack  of  agitation.  In  1864  the  Neva- 
dans  returned  to  their  original  idea  of  jurisdiction 
to  the  summit  of  the  Sierras,  and  memorialized 
the  California  Legislature,  asking  that  all  the 
territory  in  the  State  east  of  that  range  be  trans- 

212  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

ferred  to  Nevada.  If  the  whole  could  not  be  pre- 
sented to  the  Silver  State,  the  petitioners  were 
anxious  that  Mono  and  Alpine,  at  least,  should  be. 
John  R.  Dudleston,  then  a  prominent  Monoite, 
urged  that  the  line  be  run  from  Mt.  Dana  to  Mt. 
McBride,  ''the  point  where  the  State  line  crosses 
the  White  Mountains. ' '  The  effort  had  no  result. 
Passage  by  the  Nevada  Legislature  in  1870  of  a 
resolution  asking  for  the  proposed  cession  was  as 
fruitless.  The  same  proposal  has  been  made  since, 
and  at  times  had  some  support  in  the  area  affected. 

In  1873  residents  of  the  northern  part  of  the 
county  started  a  movement  to  have  the  county 
line  re-established  at  Big  Pine  Creek,  throwing 
the  Bishop  vicinity  back  into  Mono.  This  arose 
from  county  dissensions.  Three  years  went  by 
before  the  subject  was  seriously  renewed.  It  then 
grew  to  such  proportions  that  the  Supervisors 
took  official  notice  of  the  matter.  A  protest 
against  any  change  was  adopted  by  the  votes  of 
Curtis,  of  Independence,  and  Meysan,  of  Lone 
Pine,  for  the  protest  and  that  of  Garretson,  of 
Bishop,  against  it.  Next  came  Assemblyman 
Matthew  Griswold,  of  Mono,  with  a  bill  to  create 
Monache  County,  to  include  Olancha,  the  boom- 
ing camps  of  Darwin  and  Panamint  and  the  desert 
region  generally.    This  measure  died  on  the  files. 

A  step  forward  for  the  county  was  made  when 
in  June,  1870,  a  newspaper,  the  Inyo  Independent, 
was  established  at  Independence  by  Chalfant  & 
Parker.  Among  its  items  were  statements  that  a 
petition  was  in  circulation  to  secure  a  tri-weekly 
mail  between  Independence  and  Aurora.    Mines 


at  Fish  Springs  were  paying  well.  That  camp 
was  headquarters  for  a  tough  crowd  known  as 
''Morgan  Courtney's  gang" — characters  who 
later  contributed  to  the  criminal  records  of  some 
of  the  Nevada  towns.  A  wagon  road  between  In- 
dependence and  Visalia  was  being  discussed.  Inyo 
County's  debt  was  $33,525.52.  Bullion  to  the 
amount  of  1,419,387  pounds  had  gone  out  from 
the  Cerro  Gordo  furnaces.  It  gave  pleasure  to  an- 
nounce that  two  regular  mails  a  week  had  been 
arranged  for,  the  government  paying  for  one  and 
the  stage  company  putting  on  one  of  its  own  ac- 
cord. Henry  G.  Hanks  had  refused  $30,000  for 
the  Monte  Diablo  (later  Mount  Diablo)  mine  at 
Candelaria.  Isaac  Friedlander  was  making  ap- 
plication for  a  patent  on  the  Eclipse  mine,  south- 
east of  Independence. 

The  year  1871  was  an  election  year,  and  devel- 
oped some  of  the  hottest  politics  the  county  ever 
had.  One  of  its  features  was  a  campaign  journal 
largely  devoted  to  personalities,  named  The  Inyo 
Lancet,  of  which  Thomas  J.  Goodale  was  the  edi- 
tor-in-chief. The  issues  involved  were  of  but  tem- 
porary interest.  Winners  in  the  election  were 
Cy  Mulkey,  Sheriff ;  M.  W.  Hammarstrand,  Clerk ; 
E.  H.  Van  Decar,  District  Attorney;  Henry  M. 
Isaacs,  Treasurer;  J.  F.  Dillon,  Assessor;  John 
A.  Lank,  Coroner.  Precincts  in  the  territory  ac- 
quired from  Mono  County  cast  votes  as  follows : 
Deep  Spring  Valley,  18 ;  Round  Valley,  40 ;  Bishop 
Creek,  92.  Older  Inyo  precincts  cast  77  votes  at 
Fish  Springs,  111  at  Independence,  95  at  Lone 
Pine,  29  at  Swansea,  and  124  at  Cerro  Gordo. 


TWO    AFFAIRS    OF    1871 



The  most  desperate  prison  break  in  the  history 
of  the  West  occurred  at  the  Nevada  penitentiary 
at  Carson  on  the  evening  of  Sunday,  September 
17,  1871.  Twenty-nine  convicts,  murderers,  train 
robbers,  horse  thieves  and  others  of  like  ilk,  gained 
temporary  liberty  after  killing  one  man  and 
wounding  half  a  dozen  more.  The  bravery  of  the 
handful  of  prison  guards,  the  action  of  a  life 
prisoner  in  opposing  the  escape  and  fighting  the 
convicts,  and  other  details  make  an  interesting 
story,  but  one  outside  the  field  of  this  history. 
Inyo's  interest  in  the  affair  became  direct  when 
one  of  the  gangs  of  desperadoes  started  with  in- 
tent to  recuperate  in  Owens  and  Fish  Lake  val- 
leys, as  a  preliminary  to  raiding  a  store  at  Silver 
Peak  and  escaping  Avith  their  loot  to  seek  refuge 
among  the  renegades,  Indians  and  whites,  who  had 
established  themselves  in  the  far  deserts. 

Billy  Poor,  a  mail  rider,  was  met  by  the  con- 
victs, who  murdered'  him  in  cold  blood,  took  his 
horse  and  clothing  and  dressed  the  corpse  in  dis- 
carded prison  garb.    When  news  of  the  occurrence 


TWO    AFFAIES    OF    1871  215 

reached  Aurora,  the  boy's  home,  a  posse  set  out 
ill  pursuit  of  the  escapers.  The  trail  was  found 
at  Adobe  Meadow^s,  in  southern  Mono,  and  word 
was  sent  to  Deputy  Sheriff  George  Hightower,  at 
Benton.  Hightower  and  ten  others  from  Benton 
trailed  the  fugitives  into  Long  Valley.  Eobert 
Morrison,  who  came  to  Owensville  in  1863  and  was 
at  this  time  a  Benton  merchant,  first  sighted  the 
men,  in  the  evening  of  Friday,  the  23d.  The  pur- 
suers went  to  the  McGee  place,  in  southern  Long 
Valley,  and  spent  the  night,  and  the  following 
morning  went  up  the  stream  then  known  as  Monte 
Diablo  Creek,  but  now  called  Convict. 

As  the  posse  neared  the  narrow  at  the  eastern 
end  of  the  deep  cup  in  which  Convict  Lake  is 
situated,  a  man  was  seen  running  down  a  hill  a 
hundred  yards  ahead.  The  pursuers  spurred  up 
their  horses  and  soon  found  themselves  within 
forty  feet  of  the  convicts'  camp.  Three  convicts 
took  shelter  behind  a  large  pine  tree  on  the  south 
side  of  the  stream,  and  began  firing.  Two  of 
the  horses  of  the  posse  were  killed  and  two  others 
wounded,  and  one  of  the  posse  was  shot  through 
the  hand.  Morrison  dismounted,  began  crawling 
down  the  hillside  to  get  nearer,  and  was  shot  in 
the  side.  The  rest  of  the  posse  fled.  Black,  con- 
vict, went  after  Morrison,  passing  him  until  Mor- 
rison snapped  his  gun  without  its  being  dis- 
charged; Black  then  shot  him  through  the  head. 

The  convicts  w^ent  up  the  canyon  to  where  an 
Indian  known  as  Mono  Jim  was  keeping  some  of 
the  citizens'  horses.  Thinking  that  the  approach- 
ing men  belonged  to  the  posse,  Jim  announced  that 

216  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

he  had  seen  three  men  down  the  canyon.  As  he 
saw  his  mistake  Black  shot  him.  Jim  returned 
the  fire,  wounding  two  of  the  horses  the  convicts 
had,  and  was  then  killed.  Morrison's  body  re- 
mained where  it  fell  until  Alney  McGee  went  from 
the  house  in  the  valley  that  evening  and  recovered 
it.  The  convicts  had  left.  Morrison's  body  was 
taken  to  Benton  and  buried  by  the  Masonic  frater- 

'^ Convict"  was  thenceforward  adopted  as  the 
name  of  the  beautiful  lake  and  stream  near  the 
scene.  A  mighty  peak  that  towers  over  the  lake 
bears  the  name  of  Mount  Morrison. 

Word  had  been  sent  from  Benton  to  Bishop, 
and  a  posse  headed  by  John  Crough  and  John 
Clarke  left  the  latter  place,  after  some  delay  due 
to  failure  of  the  messenger  to  deliver  his  letter. 
The  trail  was  picked  up  in  Round  Valley,  which 
the  convicts  had  crossed.  The  latter  had  made 
their  way  into  Pine  Creek  Canyon,  and  were  so 
hard  pressed  that  they  abandoned  one  of  their 
horses  and  lost  another  over  a  precipice.  News 
that  the  men  w^ere  located,  and  the  fact  that  they 
were  armed  with  Henry  rifles,  superior  to  the 
weapons  of  the  citizens,  was  taken  to  Indepen- 
dence by  I.  P.  Yaney.  The  military  post  was  at 
that  time  conmaanded  by  Major  Harry  C.  Egbert, 
who  afterward  became  General  Egbert  and  lost 
his  life  as  a  brave  soldier  in  the  Philippines. 
Major  Egbert  selected  five  men  to  accompany  him 
in  the  hunt,  and  also  provided  a  supply  of  arms 
for  any  citizens  who  might  wish  to  use  them  for 
the  main  purpose.    They  made  the  trip  to  Bishop 

TWO    AFFAIRS    OF    1871  217 

in  seven  liours,  which  was  rapid  traveling  in  those 

Convicts  Morton  and  Black  were  captured  in 
the  sandhills  five  miles  southeast  of  Round  Val- 
ley, on  Wednesday  night,  ten  days  after  their 
escape.  They  were  taken  by  J.  L.  C.  Sherwin, 
Hubbard,  Armstead,  McLeod  and  two  Indians.  A 
few  shots  were  exchanged  before  the  fugitives 
threw  up  their  hands  in  token  of  surrender.  An 
Indian  mistook  the  motion  and  fired,  the  shot 
striking  Black  in  the  temple  and  passing  through 
his  head,  but  strangely  not  killing  him.  The  two 
were  taken  to  Birchim's  place  in  Round  Valley. 
Black  was  able  to  talk,  and  laid  the  killing  of 
Morrison  on  Roberts,  a  nineteen-year  old  boy. 
After  hearing  his  story  a  posse  resumed  the  hunt 
for  Roberts  in  Pine  Creek  Canyon. 

This  posse  was  eating  lunch  in  the  canyon  on 
Friday  when  they  observed  a  movement  in  a  clump 
of  wiUows  within  twenty  yards  of  them.  The 
place  was  surrounded  and  Roberts  was  ordered  to 
come  out  and  surrender.  He  did  so,  saying  that 
if  they  intended  to  kill  him  he  was  ready  if  he 
could  have  a  cup  of  coffee.  He  had  been  five  and 
one-half  days  without  food.  When  he  confronted 
Black  at  Birchim's,  the  conduct  of  the  older  vil- 
lain satisfied  all  that  he  and  not  Roberts  had  slain 

The  three  prisoners  were  placed  in  a  spring 
wagon  Sunday  evening,  October  1st,  and  with 
a  guard  of  horsemen  started  from  Round  Valley 
for  Carson.  Near  Pinchower's  store,  where  the 
northern  road  through  West  Bishop  intersected 

218  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

the  main  drive  of  that  vicinity,  the  escort  and 
wagon  were  surrounded  by  a  large  body  of  armed 
citizens.  ''Who  is  the  captain  of  this  guard?" 
was  asked.  "I  am;  turn  to  the  left  and  go  on." 
But  the  mob  did  not  turn  to  the  left  nor  was  there 
any  resistance.  Morton,  who  sat  with  the  driver, 
said:  "Give  me  the  reins  and  I'll  drive  after 
them ;  I'm  a  pretty  good  driver  myself. ' '  Roberts, 
who  had  been  shot  in  the  shoulder  and  in  the  foot 
in  the  encounter  in  Long  Valley,  was  lying  in 
the  bottom  of  the  wagon.  He  offered  objections 
to  going  with  the  citizens,  but  without  effect,  and 
with  Black  driving  to  his  own  hanging,  the  wagon 
and  its  escort  moved  across  the  unfenced  meadow 
to  a  vacant  cabin  a])out  a  mile  northeasterly.  On 
arrival  there.  Black  and  Roberts  were  carried  into 
the  house,  both  being  wounded.  Morton  got  down 
from  the  wagon  with  little  assistance  and  went  in 
with  them. 

Lights  were  procured,  and  all  present  except 
the  guards  over  the  prisoners  formed  a  jury.  The 
convicts  were  questioned  for  two  hours  before 
votes  were  taken,  separately  on  each  prisoner.  It 
was  decreed  that  Black  and  Morton  should  be 
hanged  at  once.  The  vote  on  Roberts  was  equally 
divided  for  and  against  execution,  and  his  life  was 
saved  by  that  fact. 

A  scaffold  was  hastily  set  up  at  the  end  of  the 
house,  one  end  of  its  beam  resting  on  the  top  of 
its  low  chimney,  the  other  supported  by  a  tripod 
of  timbers.  Morton  hoard  the  preparations  going 
on,  and  asked:  "Black,  are  you  ready  to  die?" 
"No,  this  is  not  the  crowd  that  will  hang  us," 

TWO    AFFAIRS    OF    1871  219 

replied  Black.  "Yes,  it  is,"  said  Morton;  don't 
you  hear  them  building  the  scaffold"?"  Morton  was 
asked  if  he  wished  to  stand  nearer  the  fire  which 
had  been  made  to  modify  the  chill  of- the  late 
autumn  night.  "No,  it  isn't  worth  while  warm- 
ing now,"  he  answered;  and  turning  to  Roberts 
he  said:  "AVe  are  to  swing,  and  I  mean  to  have 
you  swing  with  us  if  we  can ;  we  want  company. ' ' 
Black  was  carried  out  and  lifted  into  a  wagon 
which  had  been  driven  under  the  scaffold;  after 
being  raised  to  his  feet  he  stood  unsupported. 
Morton  walked  out  and  looked  over  the  arrange- 
ments calmly,  climbed  into  the  wagon,  and  placed 
the  noose  over  his  own  head.  He  asked  that  his 
hands  be  made  fast  so  that  he  could  not  jump  up 
and  catch  the  rope.  Black  asked  for  water ;  Mor- 
ton asked  him  what  he  wanted  with  water  then. 
When  asked  if  they  had  anything  to  say,  Black 
said  no.  Morton  said  that  it  wasn't  well  for  a 
man  to  be  taken  off  without  some  religious  cere- 
mony, and  if  there  was  a  minister  present  he 
would  like  to  have  a  prayer.  Whether  it  seems 
strange  or  otherwise,  there  was  a  minister  present 
by  request.  He  spoke  a  few  words,  after  which 
Morton  said:  "I  am  prepared  to  meet  my  God — 
but  I  don't  know  that  there  is  any  God."  He 
shook  hands  with  the  men  on  the  wagon,  and  then 
the  minister  prayed.  Only  his  voice  and  a  sigh 
from  Black  broke  the  stillness.  As  "Amen"  was 
pronounced  the  wagon  moved  away.  Black  was 
a  large  and  heavy  man  and  died  without  a  strug- 
gle. Morton,  a  very  small  man,  sprang  into  the 
air  as  the  wagon  started,  and  did  not  move  a 
muscle  after  his  weight  rested  on  the  rope. 

220  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

Young  Roberts  was  taken  to  the  county  jail 
at  Independence,  and  after  partial  recovery  from 
his  wounds  was  returned  to  the  Carson  prison. 
Others  among  the  escapes  were  believed  to  have 
come  this  way,  and  hard  search  was  made  for 
them  through  the  mountains.  That  one  named 
Charley  Jones  had  come  to  Bishop  Creek  and  had 
probably  received  some  assistance  was  a  general 
belief,  but  what  became  of  him  was  never  known 
unless  to  a  select  circle.  Four  of  the  escapes  were 
captured  on  Walker  River  while  they  were  feast- 
ing on  baked  coyote.  Eighteen  of  the  twenty- 
nine  were  captured  or  killed  within  two  months  of 
the  prison  break. 

One  of  the  Government's  parties  of  explora- 
tion sent  into  the  Great  Basin  during  the  1870 
decade  was  the  Wheeler  expedition.  Its  visit  to 
Inyo  in  1871  would  be  worthy  of  but  passing  note 
in  this  record  but  for  two  desert  tragedies  con- 
nected with  it,  to  wit :  the  disappearance  of  guides 
Egan  and  Hahn. 

The  expedition  comprised  sixty  men,  including 
soldiers,  geologists,  botanists,  photographers, 
meteorologists,  naturalists,  and  representatives  of 
other  branches  of  knowledge  within  the  field  of 
government  investigation.  With  them  as  press 
correspondent  came  Fred  W.  Loring,  a  talented 
young  Bostonian,  whose  promising  career  as  a 
writer  was  cut  short  soon  afterward  by  Arizona 
Apaches.  The  force  was  divided  into  two  detach- 
ments, with  Lieutenant  George  M.  Wheeler  as 
commander  of  one  and  Lieutenant  D.  A.  Lyle  as 
chief  of  the  other. 

TWO    AFFAIRS    OF    1871  221 

The  party  left  the  Central  Pacific  Eailroad  at 
Carlin,  Nevada,  and  traversed  the  deserts  south- 
westerly, arriving  at  Independence  in  July,  1871. 
Their  investigations  had  proved  very  satisfac- 
tory; the  country  had  been  mapped,  and  each  sci- 
entist had  discoveries  in  his  special  line  later 
incorporated  in  the  reports  that  may  be  found  in 
ofl&cial  repositories. 

The  detachments  left  Camp  Independence  July 
21st.  Lyle  was  directed  to  cross  the  eastern  range 
and  to  meet  Wheeler  at  the  head  of  the  Amargosa. 
The  guide  for  his  party  was  C.  F.  R.  Hahn,  one  of 
the  county's  pioneers,  discoverer  of  some  of  the 
mines  of  Cerro  Gordo,  an  accomplished  linguist 
and  educated  man  as  well  as  miner  and  moun- 

According  to  the  story  later  told  by  Lyle  and 
John  Koehler,  naturalist  with  this  detachment, 
Hahn  left  camp  two  days  out  from  Owens  Valley, 
to  go  ahead  and  prospect  for  water.  He  did  not 
return,  and  no  Inyo  acquaintance  ever  saw  him 
again.  The  detachment  took  no  time  to  hunt  for 
him.  The  belief  was  general  in  the  county  at 
that  time  that  he  had  been  basely  deserted  by  the 
company — equivalent  to  murder,  in  that  region  in 
midsummer.  It  was  established  that  Koehler  had 
said  that  he  would  make  Hahn  find  water  or  kill 
him.  A.  J.  Close,  a  sometime  resident  of  Inde- 
pendence, wrote  from  Colorado  in  1875  that  he 
had  seen  a  man  who  claimed  to  have  known  Hahn 
in  Arizona  afterward.  This  man  said  that  the 
missing  man  had  been  killed  in  that  wild  terri- 
tory, but  that  previous  to  his  death  he  had  told  of 


222  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

leaving  the  Lyle  party.  He  had  been  nnable  to 
find  water  and  was  afraid  to  go  back.  He  stripped 
the  saddle  from  his  mule,  and  left  it,  with  other 
personal  effects  and  papers  to  create  the  belief 
that  he  had  perished,  and  had  then  ridden  bare- 
back across  the  desert  into  Arizona.  Hahn's  be- 
longings, or  some  of  them,  were  found  in  a  canyon 
near  the  head  of  Death  Valley  a  short  time  after- 
ward. A  pair  of  field  glasses,  believed  to  have 
been  Hahn's,  were  found  at  another  place,  by  an 
Indian.  They  came  into  P.  A.  Chalf ant's  posses- 
sion, and  were  destroyed  in  the  burning  of  his 
home  many  years  later.  They  had  special  value 
because  of  their  associations,  and  further  because 
of  a  curious  phenomenon  in  their  appearance.  The 
cement  uniting  the  prisms  of  the  object  lenses  had 
been  formed  into  miniature  representations  of 
sage  bushes,  though  whether  this  was  actually  a 
picturing  of  those  within  the  lenses'  range  or 
merely  a  form  taken  by  the  cement  under  action 
of  the  excessive  heat  of  the  desert  was  only 
surmise.  Notwithstanding,  the  serviceability  of 
the  glasses  was  unimpaired. 

The  Wheeler  detachment  took  a  more  southerly 
route  on  leaving  Independence.  Its  guide  was 
William  Egan,  a  scholarly  gentleman  well  known 
in  many  parts  of  the  intermountain  region.  Being 
familiar  with  the  Amargosa  region,  he  consented 
to  pilot  the  party  that  far.  He  disappeared  even 
more  completely  than  did  Hahn,  for  not  even  a 
rumor  of  his  having  been  seen  alive  or  dead  after 
leaving  the  expedition  ever  reached  his  friends. 
Wheeler  accounted  for  him  by  saying  that  he  had 

TWO    AFFAIES    OF    1871  223 

left  camp  for  Rose  Springs,  and  had  gone  over 
Towne's  Pass  into  Death.  Valley.  Wheeler  said 
that  after  waiting  a  day  for  him,  the  party  left 
provisions  and  a  note  at  Rose  Springs  and  went 
on.  Loring,  w^riting  for  Appleton's  Journal,  then 
one  of  the  country's  leading  magazines,  said  that 
two  men  had  gone  into  the  Telescope  mountains, 
with  Egan  as  guide.  "He  did  not  come  back- 
he  never  will  come  back,"  wrote  Loring.  Thp 
two  accounts  do  not  agree  as  to  the  point  of 
Egan's  departure. 

Evidence  by  members  of  the  party  showed  that 
there  had  been  friction  between  the  guides  and 
the  commanders  in  each  instance.  Wheeler  and 
Lyle  were  both  characterized  as  brutal  and  over- 
bearing, acting  on  the  belief  that  their  military 
commissions  were  ample  warrant  for  any  attitude 
they  chose  to  take  toward  civilians  in  their  em- 

A  blacksmith  who  accompanied  the  expedition 
from  Eureka,  Nevada,  said  no  inquiries  were  ever 
made  in  the  camp  concerning  Egan's  whereabouts. 
His  pack  animal  and  prospecting  outfit  were  taken 
and  used  as  government  property.  Lyle  gave  this 
blacksmith  to  understand  that  Hahn  had  deserted, 
and  that  if  time  permitted  he  would  return  and 
shoot  him. 

Putting  the  best  possible  construction  on 
known  circumstances,  the  two  guides  were  virtu- 
ally abandoned  in  the  desert.  Harsh  inferences 
were  corroborated  by  authenticated  incidents  of 
the  journey.  Near  Belmont,  Nevada,  one  of  the 
outfit's  mules  strayed.    Men  hunting  the  animal 

224  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

came  upon  a  boy  herding  cattle.  He  professed  to 
know  nothing  of  the  mule,  but  was  brought  into 
camp.  Wheeler  had  him  tied  up  by  the  thumbs  in 
an  effort  to  extort  knowledge  that  the  boy  did  not 
have.  Again,  as  Ash  Meadows,  Wheeler  tried  to 
get  an  Indian  to  take  a  note  to  his  brother  at  a 
point  70  miles  distant.  The  Indian  asked  for 
five  dollars,  a  shirt  and  a  pair  of  pants  as  pay. 
This  was  refused  and  he  left  camp.  The  next 
morning  he  returned,  with  four  others.  All  were 
seized  and  tied  up.  One  broke  away,  started  to 
run,  and  was  shot  and  killed.  The  rest  of  them 
set  out,  under  guard,  with  the  note;  the  corporal 
reported  that  they  had  run  away,  with  shots  flying 
after  them.  In  this  dilemma  Wheeler  concluded 
to  go  himself,  with  an  orderly.  He  was  sur- 
rounded, somewhere  during  his  trip,  by  a  dozen 
Indians,  and  would  have  been  killed  had  it  not 
been  for  the  interposition  of  a  Salt  Lake  Indian 
with  the  crowd. 

The  comparative  prominence  of  the  missing 
guides,  and  the  curt  information  given  to  those 
who  would  have  made  the  hunt  the  military  men 
failed  to  make,  caused  much  adverse  comment  and 
feeling  in  Owens  Valley.  That  two  men  familiar 
with  the  country  should  disappear  while  the  expe- 
ditions they  guided  went  through  without  marked 
difficulty,  was  a  singular  fact.  The  abandonment 
of  the  men,  the  lack  of  effort  to  locate  them,  and 
the  indifference  of  the  commanders  to  any  in- 
quiries, added  to  a  desert  mystery  that,  at  least 
in  the  case  of  Egan,  was  never  solved  in  any  way 




The  great  earthquake  of  March  26,  1872, 
stands  alone  in  its  awe-inspiring  magnitude  as  an 
item  of  Inyo  County  history.  Other  earthquakes 
have  been  known  here,  but  beside  them  it  was  as  a 
cyclone  to  a  summer  breeze.  It  was  Mother  Earth's 
time  for  readjustment  somewhere  in  the  region — 
such  an  occurrence  as  different  parts  of  the  New 
World  and  the  Old  have  had,  as  at  New  Madrid, 
Charleston,  San  Francisco,  and  in  many  foreign 
lands.  That  the  seismic  disturbance  originated 
somewhere  near  Owens  Valley  was  evident;  it 
appears  to  have  been  an  affair  in  which  we  had 
original  and  proprietary  interest,  though  the  ef- 
fects were  felt  nearly  simultaneously  from  Mex- 
ico to  British  Columbia  and  eastward  to  Utah. 

The  shake  came  at  2:30  on  the  morning  of 
March  26th.  Premonitory  symptoms,  if  such  they 
were,  had  appeared  during  many  months.  A  shock 
of  some  severity  was  reported  at  Lone  Pine  March 
17th.  The  main  event  came  unheralded  save  by  a 
mighty  rumble.  The  shock  was  reported  by  Camp 
Independence    observers    to    have    lasted    three 


226  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

minutes;  its  worst  effects  occurred  in  the  first 
minute.  Next  in  severity,  but  still  much  milder, 
was  one  at  6:30  the  same  morning.  The  Camp 
Independence  record  noted  200  shocks  of  tremors 
from  the  hour  of  the  big  shake  up  to  5 :00  the  fol- 
lowing afternoon.  In  its  issue  of  April  6, 1872,  the 
Inyo  Independent  observed  that  the  earth  was 
quieting  down,  as  shocks  were  from  twelve  to 
twenty  hours  apart. 

One  can  read,  in  publications  of  the  time,  many 
tales  of  the  earthquake,  nearly  all  written  by  non- 
residents with  able  imaginations  and  a  belief  that 
the  remoteness  of  the  region  would  permit  any 
sort  of  story  to  be  accepted.  The  facts  were  star- 
tling enough,  without  gratuitous  additions. 

Fissures  opened  at  different  points,  generally 
but  not  in  all  cases  paralleling  the  valley  axis.  In 
a  few  instances  there  were  changes  in  the  level  of 
the  ground  bordering  such  breaks.  The  chief  of 
these  was  at  Lone  Pine,  where  a  twelve-mile  crack 
opened.  Whether  the  land  on  the  east  was  lowered 
or  that  on  the  west  was  raised  no  scientist  ever 
took  the  trouble  to  announce,  but  a  difference  of 
from  four  to  twelve  feet  was  made.  Also,  the 
land  on  the  east  side  was  moved  northward,  or 
that  on  the  west  was  moved  southward,  several 
feet,  as  broken  fences  across  the  fissure  proved. 
Another  large  fissure  appeared  near  Big  Pine. 

Twenty-four  persons  were  killed  at  Lone  Pine, 
and  about  the  same  number  escaped  with  severe 
or  minor  injuries.  One  person  was  killed  and  one 
injured  at  Eclipse,  on  the  river  southeast  of  Inde- 
pendence; one  killed  at  Camp  Independence,  and 

EL    TEMBLOR  227 

several  injured;  one  hurt  at  Bishop.  The  prop- 
erty loss  was  never  accurately  determined,  but  was 
estimated  at  from  $150,000  to  $200,000.    • 

Every  instance  of  personal  harm  was  due  to 
the  character  of  buildings  which  had  until  then 
been  in  use.  The  population  of  Lone  Pine  was 
largely  composed  of  Mexicans,  who  had  exercised 
their  preference  for  sun-dried  bricks,  or  adobes, 
as  building  material.  While  such  construction  was 
more  in  use  there  than  in  other  parts  of  the  val- 
ley, the  scarcity  and  high  cost  of  lumber  helped 
in  making  the  use  of  adobes  quite  general  in  the 
small  settlements.  Three-fourths  of  Lone  Pine's 
buildings  were  thus  made,  and  about  sixty  of  them 
toppled  down  in  the  shake  like  piles  of  children's 
blocks.  The  buildings  at  Eclipse,  all  adobe,  and 
some  others  elsewhere  shared  the  same  fate.  The 
courthouse  at  Independence  was  of  burned  bricks, 
and  collapsed.  Only  one  frame  building  in  the 
valley  was  leveled,  and  that  was  an  unsubstantial 
and  cheap  shed.  Many,  however,  were  racked, 
and  all  plastering  was  shattered.  Adobes  were 
promptly  stricken  from  the  list  of  favored  build- 
ing materials;  probably  there  was  never  a  more 
instantaneous  and  general  change  of  opinion  re- 
garding construction  methods. 

Some  of  the  curiosities  of  the  earthquake  are 
worth  noting.  At  George's  Creek  water  burst 
from  the  ground  up  into  a  floorless  cabin,  in  such 
volume  as  to  flood  out  the  occupants  if  they  had 
awaited  further  notice  to  vacate.  Not  far  off,  a 
horse's  hoof  protruding  from  the  ground,  where  a 
crack  had  opened  and  then  closed,  gave  reasonable 

228  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

inference  as  to  where  the  rest  of  the  animal  might 
be  found.  Similarly,  at  Fish  Springs  a  crack 
swallowed  an  ox,  only  his  tail  being  left  out  in  the 
air  as  a  card  indicating  that  he  had  not  strayed. 
Near  by,  another  ox  was  dead  on  the  ground,  with 
not  a  sign  of  injury.  Of  two  adobe  huts  a  mile 
apart,  one  cruml3led,  the  other  was  not  damaged 
at  all. 

In  an  Independence  law  office,  two  adjoining 
rooms  contained  shelves  of  books  on  the  north  and 
south  walls.  In  one,  the  north  shelves  were  com- 
pletely emptied,  every  book  being  thrown  to  the 
floor,  while  those  on  the  opposite  shelves  remained 
undisturbed.  In  the  adjoining  room,  next  west, 
exactly  the  reverse  occurred;  the  south  shelves 
were  emptied  while  the  ones  on  the  north  stood 
as  usual. 

At  Bishop,  a  stone  chimney  fell  across  a  bed 
which  two  young  ladies  would  have  been  occupying 
had  they  not  been  away  at  a  dance  at  the  time. 

The  course  of  Owens  River  was  changed  east 
of  Independence,  and  the  site  of  Bend  City  was 
left  neighboring  an  empty  ravine  instead  of  the 
river  bank. 

Dust  hung  over  the  Sierras  for  two  days  after 
the  earthquake,  while  the  White  Mountains  were 
obscured  by  haze  and  dust  for  a  shorter  period. 
The  rolling  of  stones  and  the  sparks  struck  in 
their  descents  were  vividly  described  by  beholders. 

In  spite  of  widespread  interest  and  veritable 
volumes  of  printed  matter,  opportunity  for  scien- 
tific investigation  was  neglected.  Prof.  J.  D. 
Whitney  and  Clarence  King,  two  of  the  most  noted 

EL   TEMBLOB  229 

scientists  of  the  West,  made  flying  trips  into  the 
valley,  tarrying  but  briefly.  Professor  Whitney 
afterward  published  two  articles  on  the  Inyo 
earthquake,  one  of  which  excited  local  derision  be- 
cause of  its  inaccuracy  as  to  facts.  The  other 
was  a  general  dissertation  on  the  subject  of  earth- 
quakes, and  probably  entitled  to  more  serious 
consideration  than  his  hastily  gathered  Owens 
Valley  notes. 

He  mentions  a  tradition  of  the  Piutes  that  a 
similar  shake  had  occurred  eighty  years  earlier — 
that  is,  about  1790.  He  concluded  that  an  earth- 
quake is  a  passage  of  an  elastic  wave  of  motion 
through  a  portion  of  the  crust  of  the  earth,  and 
that  unusual  seismic  manifestations  in  one  part 
of  the  earth  are  likely  to  be  followed  by  like  dis- 
turbances elsewhere.  He  figured  that  the  Inyo 
earthquake  was  one  of  a  chain,  extending  through 
the  winter  and  spring  of  that  year.  He  enumer- 
ated a  long  list  of  shocks,  during  the  months  of 
January,  February,  March  and  April,  in  Asia, 
Australia,  Europe,  Minnesota,  Illinois,  Germany, 
Japan,  Mexico,  Kentucky,  Africa,  Ireland,  and  the 
Philippine  Islands.  Our  little  agitation  was  of 
small  consequence — except  to  ourselves — by  com- 
parison with  the  leveling  of  a  Persian  city  and 
death  of  30,000  of  its  inhabitants  that  January; 
destruction  of  cities  near  the  Caucasus  Mountains 
and  in  Japan ;  the  killing  of  a  thousand  or  fifteen 
hundred  persons  at  historic  Antioch ;  the  greatest 
eruption  of  Vesuvius  since  1632,  and  other  notable 
events  of  that  season. 

Whitney  concluded  that  the  focus  of  the  Owens 

230  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

Valley  earthquake  was  somewhere  beneath  the 
Sierras,  in  the  belt  between  Owens  Lake  and  In- 
dependence, at  a  depth  of  at  least  fifty  miles,  and 
extending  for  probably  100  miles  in  length.  The 
wave  motion  traveled,  he  decided,  at  a  velocity 
of  probably  thirty-five  miles  a  minnte.  Its  great- 
est velocity  effects  were  manifested  where  changes 
in  geological  formations  were  f onnd ;  for  instance, 
fissures  usually  occurred  where  the  sandy  slope 
joined  alluvial  soil,  dry  abutting  against  wet  mate- 
rial. At  such  points  the  rate  of  motion  is  changed 
and  a  disturbance  ensues.  He  decided  that  the 
force  was  about  uniform  from  Olancha  to  Big 
Pine.  In  all  cases  observers  said  that  the  shock 
seemed  to  come  from  the  Sierran  region  men- 
tioned. At  Lone  Pine  it  came  from  the  west; 
farther  north,  from  the  southwest. 

Professor  Whitney  explained  further  that  the 
earth's  crust  is,  or  rather  must  be,  in  a  condition 
of  tension  in  places,  of  compression  in  others. 
Sooner  or  later  the  material  gives  way,  a  fissure 
forms,  and  a  powerful  impulse  is  communicated  to 
the  mass  above.  This  starts  the  wave  of  action 
which  when  it  reaches  the  surface  we  know  as 
an  earthquake. 

He  was  undecided  as  to  attributing  the  wide- 
spread disturbances  of  March  26th  to  the  Inyo 
earthquake.  A  terrific  volcanic  eruption  occurred 
in  Mexico  that  day,  which  he  believed  might  he 
a  wholly  separate  and  detached  occurrence. 

Rebuilding  began  promptly.  The  national 
Government  set  aside  $30,000  for  reconstructing 
Camp  Independence;  most  of  it  was  used  in  put- 

EL    TEMBLOR  231 

ting  up  substantial  frame  buildings.  The  county 
was  still  speedier  in  its  action.  The  destroyed 
courthouse,  a  two-story  brick,  accepted  February 
1,  1869,  had  cost  $9,832.  It  had  never  been  satis- 
factory, and  a  providential  bill  had  passed  the 
Legislature  only  two  weeks  before  the  earthquake 
authorizing  the  county  to  issue  $40,000  bonds  for 
building  a  new  courthouse  and  new  bridges  across 
the  river.  The  latter  were  to  be  at  Lone  Pine, 
Bend  City,  and  at  either  Big  Pine  or  Bishop  as  the 
Supervisors  might  decide.  So  when  the  earth- 
quake wrecked  the  old  building  more  expeditiously 
than  a  contractor  would  have  done,  no  time  was 
lost  in  moving  for  its  replacement.  The  bonds 
were  issued,  and  though  bearing  10  per  cent  in- 
terest they  were  sold  for  80  cents  on  the  dollar, 
besides  w^hich  the  county  paid  something  over 
$2,000  for  the  expense  of  making  the  sale ;  conse- 
quently the  $40,000  issue  put  a  little  less  than 
$30,000  into  the  treasury.  "The  remains  of  the 
late  courthouse,"  as  the  advertisement  put  it,  were 
offered  for  sale,  and  brought  $120.  Bids  for  a 
new  building  were  not  opened  until  September, 
when  a  contract  was  let  to  E.  Chaquette  to  erect 
the  building  for  $15,900.  Work  was  under  way 
when  an  epidemic  of  the  horse  disease  known  as 
the  epizootic  swept  the  country.  Animals  died  by 
hundreds,  and  teaming  systems  were  practically 
put  out  of  business.  Most  of  the  lumber  in  the  new 
building  was  being  ''imported,"  and  Chaquette 
was  unavoidably  given  an  extension  of  time  on  his 
contract.  The  building  was  accepted  July  3,  1873, 
and  on  the  following  day  was  used  for  the  exer- 

232  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

cises  of  the  greatest  celebration  the  county  had 
ever  had.  The  structure  was  a  far  better  building 
than  the  one  which  afterward  replaced  it,  as  well 
as  an  improvement  on  its  predecessor. 

Business  buildings  and  residences  were  also 
begun,  and  in  most  cases  were  completed  with 
rather  more  expedition  than  attended  the  county's 
reconstructive  work. 





Inyo  County  was,  in  those  days,  essentially  and 
thoroughly  a  frontier  of  ''the  old  West."  Many 
substantial  and  law-respecting  citizens  had  come, 
laying  the  foundation  for  the  later  communities; 
but  at  that  period  mitamed  tendencies  had  the  up- 
per hand  in  many  respects.  The  forms  of  law 
were  available,  but  were  not  appreciated  by  a 
large  percentage  of  the  inhabitants.  Villains  from 
other  parts  found  in  this  out-of-the-way  region  a 
comparatively  safe  refuge,  or  tarried  here  on  their 
way  to  the  still  more  inaccessible  isolation  of  the 
southern  Nevada  deserts.  To  the  new-sprung 
mining  camps  came  hard  characters  from  every- 
where, and  Colt  and  Bowie  were  the  authorities 
usually  called  in  when  disputes  arose.  Eailroads 
and  telegraphs  were  hundreds  of  miles  distant. 
To  reach  any  place  where  conditions  were  mate- 
rially different  involved  an  arduous  journey.  San 
Francisco  was  distant  three  days  and  three  nights 
of  staging — and  $60  fare.  Arrival  of  papers  four 
days  old  from  Los  Angeles  was  mentioned  by  the 


234  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

local  paper  as  a  notable  event,  and  as  being  faster 
service  than  the  mails.  Going  to  any  outside  point 
was  as  costly,  and  more  inconvenient,  than  is  a 
journey  half  way  across  the  continent  at  the  pres- 
ent time.  And  moreover,  hard  as  conditions  were 
from  a  moral  standpoint,  they  were  not  greatly 
worse  than  those  generally  prevalent  west  of  the 
Rockies  at  that  time. 

Judge  Hannah  thus  charged  one  of  his  grand 
juries : 

"Crime  has  been  exceedingly  prevalent,  and  seems  to  have 
run  rampant  in  certain  sections  of  the  county,  especially  at 

Cerro    Gordo So    far   as   I    am    informed   the   guilty 

parties  have  never  been  brought  to  justice  to  answer  for  their 

misdeeds It  is  your  duty  that  you  exhaust,  if  necessary, 

every  means  known  to  the  law  to  protect  the  peaceful  citizen 
from  these  lawless  ruffians." 

In  another  charge,  to  one  of  the  first  grand 
juries  called  by  Judge  Hannah,  he  called  attention 
to  the  commission  of  eighty  serious  and  unpun- 
ished crimes  in  the  few  years  the  county  had  then 
been  in  existence.  This  was  before  the  notable 
prominence  of  Cerro  Gordo,  with  its  still  bloodier 
record.  Crimes  then  became  of  almost  weekly 
frequency,  largely  committed  "up  on  the  hill" — 
that  is,  Cerro  Gordo.  It  is  safe  to  say  that  be- 
tween the  county's  organization  and  the  advent 
of  the  railroad,  in  the  early  '80 's,  more  men  had 
been  killed  or  wounded  in  self-defense  or  in  cold 
blood  than  the  total  of  white  victims  of  the  Indian 

Conmients  in  the  Inyo  Independent  reflected  a 
prevalent  sentiment  when,  after  a  Cerro  Gordo 


affair  in  which  two  toughs  were  wounded  and 
sent  to  the  county  hospital,  it  remarked : 

"In  those  rows  where  the  principals  are  killed  outright  we 
have  a  sort  of  morbid  satisfaction  in  so  reporting  it;"but  when 
they  are  only  maimed  and  become  expensive  public  charges 
it  is  a  bad  go.  But  frequently  innocent  parties  are  the  vic- 
tims; and  if  there  is  law  to  do  it  these  affrays  should  be 
stopped  on  that  account,  if  no  other." 

Tribal  orgies  among  the  Indians  supplied  with 
liquor  by  unprincipled  whites  were  frequent,  and 
a  slit  Piute  throat  was  not  an  unusual  result.  Once 
in  a  while  the  initial  crime  would  bring  its  own 
punishment,  as  when  a  keeper  of  a  portable  dive 
at  George 's  Creek,  sharing  a  grand  drunk  with  his 
Indian  customers,  took  occasion  to  shoot  two  of 
them  and  was  himself  neatly  and  properly  slain. 

It  is  not  to  be  supposed  that  the  machinery  of 
the  law  was  wholly  idle.  Officers  made  arrests  for 
crimes,  but  where  there  was  not  real  ground  of 
defense  others  of  the  criminal's  own  stripe  sup- 
plied evidence  that  a  jury,  however  conscientious, 
had  to  accept  as  justification.  The  public  prose- 
cutor of  those  days  was  usually  a  very  weak 
sister ;  and  the  defender  of  most  of  the  major  cases 
was  Pat  Reddy,  a  specialist  in  criminal  defense, 
an  expert  in  jury  selection,  and  a  lawyer  of  ability. 
It  was  said  that  he  was  the  means  of  freeing  more 
than  one  hundred  men  charged  with  murder  in  this 
county.  Mono  County,  and  adjacent  counties  in 

In  probably  three  cases  out  of  four,  the  hard 
cases  operated  on  each  other,  and  society  was 
somewhat  improved  by  the  net  result. 

236  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

Such  serious  offenses  as  murder  came  within 
the  jurisdiction  of  the  District  Court,  at  that  time 
presided  over  by  Theron  Y.  Reed,  a  man  whose 
mettle  fitted  the  times.  Serving  his  circuit,  Kern, 
Inyo,  Mono  and  Alpine  counties,  involved  a  de- 
gree of  personal  hardship.  To  reach  his  different 
county  seats.  Judge  Eeed  journeyed  from  Havilah 
to  Millerton  (now  forgotten),  thence  via  Sacra- 
mento and  Sonora  across  the  Sierras  to  Bridge- 
port and  Markleeville,  thence  to  Independence  via 
Aurora  and  Benton,  on  horseback  or  by  the  some- 
times but  weekly  stages. 

An  illustrative  occurrence  was  stated  to  the 
writer  by  Paul  W.  Bennett,  an  attorney  in  Inde- 
pendence when  the  incident  happened.  Judge 
Reed  was  holding  court  at  Independence  when  a 
man  from  Fish  Springs  was  brought  in,  whether 
for  rebellion  against  the  Morgan  Courtney  gang 
of  roughs  then  dominating  that  neighborhood  or 
for  some  other  reason  there  is  no  evidence.  Pat 
Reddy,  then  new  in  his  career,  Lucius  Cooper  and 
Thomas  Slade  were  the  attorneys.  Each  was  there 
to  win  his  case.  Abuse  and  disputing  ruled  the 
court  the  first  day,  despite  Judge  Reed's  admoni- 
tions and  threats  of  fines.  When  court  opened  the 
next  morning  Judge  Reed  entered  the  room  with 
a  double-barreled  shotgun  on  his  arm.  He  cocked 
both  barrels  of  the  gun  and  set  it  by  his  chair,  and 
remarked:  ''Gentlemen,  there  will  be  order  in 
this  court  today."  Mr.  Bennett,  who  witnessed 
the  occurrence,  said  that  the  judge's  prediction 
was  correct ;  there  was  order. 

In  another  court  in  the  county,  an  attorney 


persisted  in  undertaking  to  protest  a  ruling,  until 
the  judge's  patience  tired  and  he  roared  ''Sit 
down  or  I'll  knock  you  down!"  There  was  no 
dullness  or  lack  of  variety  in  court  sessions  those 

As  a  help  in  picturing  conditions,  we  turn  to 
the  local  columns  of  the  Inyo  Independent.  All 
the  following  items  are  from  the  same  issue  of 
that  paper.  Other  issues  might  show  more  or  less 
notes  of  similar  nature ;  this  one  was  not  selected, 
but  was  the  first  one  examined  in  this  particular 
respect.  This  issue  is  dated  July  13,  1872,  and 
mentions  these  occurrences : 

A  despei-ado  named  White  appeared  at  Benton  on  the  4th 
with  a  horse  to  put  in  the  races.  A  bystander  recognized 
the  horse  as  one  stolen  from  him,  whereupon  White  drew  a 
pistol  and  would  have  done  some  murdering  but  for  inter- 
ference  He  was  arrested  and  taken  to  Bridgeport  on 

three  charges  of  horse  stealing.  As  he  didn't  actually  murder 
anybody  his  prospect  of  spending  a  few  summers  at  the  sea- 
Bide  is  exceedingly  flattering. 

"At  the  seaside"  means  San  Quentin  prison. 
Note  the  inference,  which  we  italicize,  that  he 
would  probably  have  escaped  punishment  if  his 
offense  had  been  so  petty  as  murder,  instead  of 
horse  stealing.    Again: 

Some  six-shooters  got  on  a  drunk  in  Lida  Valley  on  the 
night  of  the  4th,  and  one  of  them  going  off  accidentally  in- 
flicted a  slight  wound  in  Guadalupe  Oehar's  arm.  On  the 
same  day  Len  Martin  gave  some  sheep-herder's  delight  to  two 
men  he  met;  a  free  fight  ensued,  from  which  Martin,  by  the 
free  use  of  a  pick-handle,  came  off  first  best.  A  great  future 
for  Lida  is  now  considered  certain. 

Justice  Pearson's  court  at  Lone  Pine  is  examining  George 


238  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

Lee  for  shooting  George  Bireham,  because  of  difficulties  grow- 
ing out  of  alleged  horse-stealing  on  the  part  of  Lee. 

Pearce,  arrested  on  a  charge  of  horse-stealing,  was  dis- 
charged from  custody.  After  an  interesting  interview  the 
accuser  was  willing  to  swear  that  Pearce  wasn't  much  of  a 
horse-thief  after  all. 

R.  Van  Dyke  lost  forty  tons  of  hay  near  Lone  Pine, 
through  the  cussedness  of  a  Piute  who  attempted  to  test  its 
dryness  with  a  match. 

This  contribution  is  from  another  issue  of  the 
same  paper: 

Cerro  Gordo  is  a  prolific  source  of  the  "man  for  break- 
fast" order  of  items Four  Americans,  including  Johnny 

Stewart,  who  recently  had  occasion  to  shoot  a  Mexican  in 
Lone  Pine  (and  who  was  later  hanged  at  Columbus,  Nevada), 
undertook  to  run  the  "Waterfall"  place.  A  Mexican  stepped 
up  and  put  a  pistol  almost  in  contact  with  Walker's  head, 
and  fired,  but  the  bullet  did  not  kill  him.  The  firing  became 
general,  during  which  Clark  got  a  dose  of  lead  that  knocked 
him  hors  du  combat.  Dui-ing  the  same  night,  at  another  dance 
house,  a  Mexican  received  a  shot  through  the  abdomen.  The 
night  following  the  Waterfall  affray  another  shooting  match 
took  place  between  two  Mexicans,  in  which  one  of  them  got 
a  ball  through  his  leg  and  the  other  through  his  arm.  If  such 
poor  shooting  as  this  is  unfortunately  to  be  the  nale,  active 
measures  will  have  to  be  adopted  by  citizens  who  have  a 
morbid  desire  to  attend  funerals Last  week  two  Mexi- 
cans from  Cerro  Gordo  lifted  three  horses  and  riding  gear 

from  Lone  Pine,  and  are  missing,  despite  a  warrant 

At  Lida  on  the  night  of  the  6th  Abram  Altamarino  received  a 
severe  knife  wound. 

But  the  greatest  reign  of  terror  experienced 
by  the  county's  people,  after  the  close  of  the  In- 
dian war,  was  not  caused  by  the  miscellaneous 
roughs  and  their  festive  handling  of  weapons.  It 
was  during  the  months  that  the  bandit  Vasquez 


and  his  gang  ruled  the  southern  stage  road  and 
the  highways  of  southern  Inyo,  early  in  1874,  with 
a  return  engagement  in  the  spring  of  1875.  Most 
of  the  Vasquez  deviltry  was  committed  in  other 
fields  than  Inyo,  but  during  his  sojourn  on  the 
eastern  slope  of  the  Sierras  there  were  few  weeks 
without  their  tales  of  the  operations  of  the  ''road 

Tiburcio  Vasquez  was  second  only  to  Joaquin 
Murietta  in  notoriety  as  a  California  bandit.  He 
was  prominent  in  highwayman  circles  from  1852 
to  1875.  His  own  story  was  that  he  was  hounded 
by  Americans  until  at  the  age  of  seventeen  he  de- 
cided to  become  a  robber.  He  began  his  career  near 
Salinas,  Cal.,  and  soon  gathered  a  band  of  subor- 
dinates of  his  own  lawless  kind.  In  1857  he  was 
caught  and  was  in  San  Quentin  penitentiary  until 
his  discharge  in  1863.  He  then  took  up  with  other 
noted  bandits  of  the  time,  and  the  combination  did 
a  flourishing  business  until  the  killing  of  one  of 
his  partners,  Soto,  some  years  later.  Vasquez  be- 
came the  leader  of  his  own  gang  of  cutthroats 
about  1871,  and  for  three  years  they  committed 
crime  after  crime.  Their  escape  from  capture 
was  probably  due  in  part  to  the  existence  of  con- 
federates in  different  places,  as  well  as  to  the 
readiness  with  which  the  outlaws  picked  up  the 
best  horseflesh  whenever  it  was  needed.  After 
robbing  a  store  and  killing  two  men  at  Tres  Pinos, 
Monterey  County,  they  moved  into  Fresno  County, 
then  as  thinly  populated  as  Owens  Valley.  One 
daring  crime  after  another  caused  the  Legislature 
to  authorize  Governor  Booth  to  spend  $15,000  in 

240  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

capturing  or  exterminating  the  gang.  On  Novem- 
ber 12tii  Vasquez  and  his  men  went  to  the  little 
town  of  Kingston,  and  after  tying  up  thirty-five 
men  robbed  the  place  to  their  hearts'  content. 
They  were  "hotly  pursued,"  and  as  usual  es- 
caped. The  gang  appears  to  have  scattered  for  a 
short  time,  but  in  February  Vasquez  called  his 
forces  together  in  Tejon  Canyon,  twenty  men  ap- 
pearing. Inyo  County  and  the  highway  leading 
to  it  were  selected  as  promising  abundant  loot, 
and  operations  on  this  slope  began  two  weeks 
later.  Their  first  appearance  in  the  new  field  was 
at  Coyote  Holes,  on  the  southern  stage  road,  Feb- 
ruary 25,  1874. 

A  traveler,  who  had  stayed  all  night  at  the 
station,  set  out  on  foot  to  find  a  stray  horse.  A 
mile  from  the  station  he  met  two  Mexicans,  one 
of  whom  said  he  was  Vasquez.  They  made  the 
luckless  traveler  return  to  the  station  with  them, 
and  on  the  way  met  Raymond,  the  station  keeper. 
Both  men  were  tied  up  and  left  on  a  hillside.  The 
Mexicans  went  on  toward  the  house,  announcing 
their  coming  by  firing  fifteen  shots  through  its 
walls.  Six  persons  were  inside,  but  had  no 
weapons  except  a  Henry  rifle  with  no  cartridges 
and  an  unloaded  shotgun,  and  did  not  think  it 
wise  to  argue  about  the  irregularity  of  the  pro- 
ceedings. Under  orders,  they  filed  out,  Vasquez 
finding  it  necessary  to  stimulate  the  lagging  steps 
of  a  man  known  (as  probably  some  thousands 
have  been)  as  '*Tex."  All  were  escorted  off  to 
one  side  and  made  to  sit  down.  Tex  had  imbibed 
too   freely  to   display  first-class   judgment   and 


proved  refractory,  but  became  more  docile  after 
Vasquez  sent  a  rifle  bullet  through  his  thigh. 
With  this  exception,  the  prisoners  were  treated 
with  obsequious  politeness.  The  group  was  put  on 
parole  to  keep  their  places.  Being  persons  of 
honor,  they  kept  their  promises — the  more  readily 
perhaps  because  Vasquez  promised  that  he  would 
shoot  the  first  one  who  arose,  and  they  had  no 
reason  to  disbelieve  him. 

The  robbers  returned  to  the  station  and  waited 
two  hours  for  the  arrival  of  the  stage  from  the 
south.  It  carried  three  passengers,  including  M. 
W.  Belshaw,  the  Cerro  Gordo  owner  and  financier. 
Under  the  persuasion  of  two  rifles  and  four  re- 
volvers, these  passengers  took  seats  with  the  other 
captives,  and  contributed  to  the  Vasquez  fund. 
Belshaw  gave  up  a  pair  of  new  boots,  as  well  as 
his  money.  One  of  the  passengers  demurred  at 
giving  up  a  pair  of  gloves  he  had.  Vasquez  of- 
fered him  two  dollars  for  them,  and  the  passenger, 
being  a  man  of  business,  closed  the  deal.  The 
driver  smuggled  $40  into  the  sand,  then  smashed 
open  Wells,  Fargo  &  Company's  express  box  at 
the  direction  of  the  bandits.  Two  of  the  Cerro 
Gordo  freight  teams  came  to  Coyote  Holes  about 
this  time,  and  the  drivers  were  relieved  of  such 
possessions  as  the  robbers  wanted,  and  sent  to  join 
the  little  colony  on  the  hillside.  The  bandits  then 
took  six  of  the  stage  horses  and  rode  off. 

Vasquez  and  eight  or  nine  of  his  gang  next 
went  to  the  Mexican  camp  of  Coso,  but  did  nothing 
criminal  there.  The  leader,  himself,  left  to  look 
after  his  southern  California  interests,  leaving  the 

242  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

Inyo  field  in  tlie  capable  hands  of  Chavez,  one  of 
his  lieutenants.  A  reward  of  $3,000  was  at  that 
time  being  offered  for  Chavez,  who  had  made  his 
chief  reputation  in  Monterey  County. 

Chavez  began  business  in  Inyo  in  March,  1875, 
with  eight  fellow  bandits.  His  first  theft  was 
eleven  saddle  horses.  During  the  next  few  months 
no  road  in  the  region  southeast  of  Owens  Lake 
was  safe  for  travel,  and  hold-ups  were  of  very  fre- 
quent occurrence.  No  murders  were  committed 
by  that  crew,  though  in  one  instance  Barton  Mc- 
Gee,  of  Indian  war  record,  who  understood 
Spanish,  listened  to  an  argument  as  whether  he 
should  be  allowed  to  live.  His  captors,  an  old 
man  and  a  young  one,  both  Mexicans,  asked  him 
if  he  would  forget  the  whole  affair  if  they  released 
him.  His  reply  was  that  he  would  kill  both  when 
he  got  a  chance.  Nevertheless  they  feared  to  sum- 
marily execute  him.  During  the  night  he  nearly 
loosened  his  bonds  and  the  bandits  were  within  a 
few  minutes  of  their  fate  when  they  saw  what  he 
was  doing  and  tied  him  afresh.  They  had  made 
a  bad  catch,  and  after  twenty-eight  hours  of  cap- 
tivity they  put  him,  barefooted  and  hatless,  on  a 
bronco  mule,  without  saddle  or  bridle,  and  turned 
him  loose.  Guiding  the  animal  by  slapping  its 
head  with  his  hands  he  made  his  way  to  Coso. 
There  he  outfitted  anew,  and  promptly  went  to  the 
scene  of  his  misadventure.  The  tracks  were  fresh 
and  easily  followed.  When  McGee  next  appeared 
in  camp  he  rode  his  own  horse,  which  the  rob- 
bers had  taken.  When  asked  if  he  had  seen  the 
men  he  merely  said:     "Well,  I  got  my  horse." 


The  Mexicans  may  have  been  the  ones  in  an  affair 
in  which  an  inquest  was  held,  there  being  one 
dead  man  and  another  having  run  away.  The 
Coroner's  jury  reported  only  that  the  dead  man 
had  been  ''buried  according  to  Hoyle." 

The  bandits  became  such  a  scourge  on  the 
roads  that  Capt.  MacGrowan  took  a  detachment  of 
soldiers  from  Camp  Independence  and  made  a 
25-day  pursuit  of  them,  without  result.  Capt. 
Carr,  with  Company  I,  First  Cavalry,  was  also 
in  the  field,  equally  fruitlessly. 

Vasquez  confined  his  operations  thereafter  to 
Los  Angeles  County.  One  of  his  exploits  there 
was  to  hold  up  an  Italian  rancher  for  $800  ran- 
som. Once  he  chanced  to  meet  a  deputy  Assessor 
named  Mike  Madigan,  to  whom  he  said:  *'Senor 
Miguel,  here  is  $2  for  my  poll  tax.  Let  it  not  be 
said  that  Vasquez  refuses  to  support  a  government 
which  values  him  so  highly  as  to  offer  $15,000  for 
his  head." 

He  was  finally  captured  through  the  connivance 
of  one  of  his  men  whose  wife  he  had  won.  Eight 
officers,  being  informed  that  he  was  then  at  a 
house  about  ten  miles  west  of  Los  Angeles,  took 
advantage  of  an  opportunity  to  conceal  themselves 
in  the  box  of  a  wagon  that  was  being  driven  to  the 
house.  The  officers  jumped  out,  and  Vasquez,  see- 
ing them,  went  through  a  narrow  window  and  ran 
for  his  horse.  Bullets  flew  around  him  so  thickly 
that  he  saw  it  was  hopeless,  and  gave  up.  Chaves 
had  also  been  in  the  house,  but  was  not  then  cap- 
tured. Vasquez  was  taken  to  San  Jose,  tried  for 
murder,  and  hanged  March  19,  1875.    Before  his 

244  THE    STOEY    OP    INYO 

execution  lie  said  that  he  had  never  killed  any  one. 
He  said  that  at  Coyote  Holes  he  tied  up  twenty 
men;  that  one  shot  at  and  wounded  him,  but  was 
not  punished  by  being  killed  as  he  might  have 

With  the  leader  gone,  the  capture  or  killing  oi 
the  rest  of  the  gang  was  an  easier  matter.  Chavez 
was  killed  by  a  citizen  of  Monterey  County,  and  a 
reward  which  had  grown  to  $5,000  was  collected 
for  him.  The  breaking  up  of  the  outlaw  band  was 
a  relief  to  all  the  southern  part  of  the  State,  and 
was  particularly  welcome  in  southern  Inyo. 

Minor  organizations  of  criminals  did  some 
business  in  the  county  at  one  time  or  another,  but 
all  finally  came  to  grief.  One  of  these  was  a  band 
of  horsethieves,  operating  from  Nevada  through 
this  county  and  far  southward.  At  another  time, 
this  in  1875,  three  men,  one  aged  twenty-five,  the 
others  each  under  twenty,  and  a  girl  about  the 
latter  age,  came  over  the  Sierras  to  go  adventur- 
ing as  bandits  in  this  apparently  promising  field. 
Their  most  important  enterprise  was  in  "sticking 
up"  T.  J.  Graves  and  family  at  their  little  moun- 
tain ranch  on  the  south  fork  of  Oak  Creek,  west- 
erly from  Independence.  Graves  and  his  wife 
and  little  son  were  tied  up  for  several  hours,  while 
the  robbers  cooked  supper  and  pillaged  their 
meagerly  supplied  home.  Late  that  night  the 
gang  struck  out  across  the  mountains  with  all 
they  chose  to  take  from  the  place.  Graves,  bare- 
footed because  the  bandits  had  taken  his  boots, 
got  loose  and  made  his  way  into  Independence. 
The  next  morning  a  posse  took  the  trail,  and  after 


traveling  thirty  miles  into  the  Sierras  found  a  bit 
of  paper  bearing  Mrs.  Graves's  name  on  an  ad- 
dress label.  With  this  assurance,  the  posse  kept 
on.  The  next  morning  Tom  Hill  (heretofore  men- 
tioned in  this  record)  happened  onto  the  bandit 
camp,  while  the  inmates  were  at  breakfast.  He 
pretended  to  be  diligently  hunting  grouse  until 
out  of  sight  of  the  camp.  The  rest  of  the  posse 
was  notified,  and  the  crowd  was  captured  without 
resistance.  The  men  in  due  time  went  to  the  peni- 
tentiary, and  the  woman  was  discharged  by  over- 
gallant  officers. 

That  was  a  crime-stained  decade  in  the  history 
of  Inyo  County.  This  sketchy  outline  of  it  may 
fittingly  conclude,  without  enumerating  other 
sinister  occurrences,  with  mention  of  the  death  of 
two  officers  who  lost  their  lives  in  the  discharge 
of  their  official  duty.  These  men,  Thomas  Pass- 
more  and  William  L.  Moore,  had  been  among  the 
earliest  residents  of  the  valley;  had  taken  part 
in  the  Indian  war,  and  each  was  a  citizen  held  in 
high  esteem. 

Passmore  was  elected  Sheriff  in  1875,  and 
again  in  1877.  He  was  in  Lone  Pine  on  the  night 
of  February  12,  1878.  That  night  an  Indian  was 
murdered  by  a  hardened  criminal  named  Palacio. 
The  murderer  took  refuge  in  a  deadfall  run  by 
Frank  Dabeeny,  another  individual  of  the  same 
stripe,  and  refused  to  surrender  to  local  citizens. 
Passmore,  being  somewhat  ill,  had  gone  to  bed 
early  in  the  evening.  He  was  called,  and  went 
to  the  place  and  demanded  admission.  The  door 
did  not  open,  the  demand  was  repeated,  and  Pass- 

246  THE    STORY   OP    INYO 

more  attempted  to  force  an  entrance.  Shots  were 
fired  inside  of  the  house;  the  Sheriff  exclaimed 
''Boys,  I'm  shot!"  handed  his  pistol  to  a  by- 
stander, and  fell  dead. 

Wild  excitement  ensued.  A  fusillade  of  lead 
riddled  the  building.  As  those  within  seemed 
disposed  to  hold  the  fort,  its  destruction  by  either 
fire  or  dynamite  was  proposed.  A  messenger  was 
sent  to  Independence,  and  the  siege  was  still  in 
progress  when  citizens  from  there,  eighteen  miles 
away,  reached  Lone  Pine.  Dabeeny  and  Palacio 
both  ran  out,  and  both  fell,  pierced  by  many  bul- 
lets. Then  others  were  allowed  to  come  out  and 
surrender.  Some  of  them,  of  previous  good  char- 
acter and  guilty  of  no  offense  except  being  in  bad 
company,  were  released.  Two  were  told  to  leave 
Lone  Pine  and  never  to  return.  They  left,  and 
the  next  day  their  bodies  were  found  beside  the 
road  leading  southerly. 

W.  L.  (Dad)  Moore  was  appointed  to  the  office 
made  vacant  by  Passmore's  death.  He  was  said 
to  have  received  his  nickname  by  reason  of  having 
been  the  ''dad"  of  the  town  of  Lone  Pine,  having 
been  one  of  its  first  residents.  He  had  filled  the 
Sheriff's  office  before. 

The  town  of  Independence  prepared  to  cele- 
brate the  Fourth  of  July,  1879,  in  fitting  style, 
but  the  celebration  was  not  to  occur.  Late  on  the 
afternoon  of  the  3d  a  drunken  row  started  be- 
tween men  named  Welch  and  Tessier,  in  what  was 
known  as  the  Aldine  saloon  on  the  site  now  occu- 
pied by  the  Inyo  County  Bank.  Moore  hearing 
the  disturbance,  went  in  and  stepped  between  them 


to  keep  the  peace.  Welch  had  his  pistol  drawn 
and  brought  it  do^vn  opposite  the  Sheriff's  body, 
and  it  was  discharged  immediately.  The  bullet 
passed  through  Moore's  watch,  then  through  his 
body,  and  he  died  in  a  few  minutes.  Welch  was 
promptly  put  into  jail.  Tessier  fled,  and  a  fren- 
zied hunt  for  him  began.  Some  hours  later  he 
was  found  under  a  house.  Though  he  was  wholly 
innocent  of  the  Sheriff's  murder,  popular  excite- 
ment was  inflamed,  and  while  Welch  reposed  in 
the  safety  of  a  cell  Tessier  would  probably  have 
been  lynched  but  for  the  counsels  of  Pat  Reddy. 
Welch,  who  fired  the  fatal  shot,  played  insanity 
and  ''went  up"  for  ten  years;  Tessier,  who  was 
guilty  of  nothing  worse  than  brawling,  was  given 
a  three-year  sentence. 




Cerro  Gordo  stands  undisputedly  as  the  Inyo 
County  camp  of  greatest  production,  notwith- 
standing that  no  one  knows,  within  some  millions, 
what  the  total  was.  About  $13,000,000  was  the 
estimate  at  the  close  of  its  first  period  of  life.  The 
boom  spirit  of  mining  writers  some  twenty  years 
ago  raised  the  statement  to  $28,000,000,  appar- 
ently just  for  the  sound  of  it.  The  best  available 
information  is  that  the  actual  gross  production 
of  the  camp's  best  days  was  approximately 

Tradition  long  current  in  Inyo,  and  supported 
by  pioneers  of  the  old  camp,  has  it  that  the  first 
discovery  was  made  by  one  Pablo  Flores  and  two 
other  Mexicans  in  1865;  that  the  companions  of 
Flores  were  killed  by  Indians  and  that  he  was 
allowed  to  go  after  promising  never  to  return.  A 
letter  written  from  the  camp  in  1868  said  only 
that  Flores  had  found  some  very  rich  float  while 
traveling  from  the  eastward  w^ith  an  Indian  guide. 

Another  version  was  current  and  believed  in 


CERRO    GORDO  249 

Virginia  City,  Nevada,  at  the  time  of  Cerro 
Gordo's  prosperity.  It  ran  that  a  packer  named 
Savariano,  employed  by  a  Comstock  Mexican  mine 
owner,  ran  away  with  a  packtrain  of  forty  mules 
laden  with  very  rich  ore.  This  he  was  supposed 
to  take  to  Placerville  for  reduction,  and  he  started 
according  to  program.  When  out  of  sight  of  his 
employer  he  headed  south  with  the  whole  caval- 
cade. On  this  trip  he  was  said  to  have  found  the 
Cerro  Gordo  mines.  A  Virginia  paper  said  the 
absconding  of  Savariano  was  a  matter  of  common 
knowledge.  Be  that  as  it  may,  the  Flores  version 
was  accepted  by  Inyoites,  including  those  who 
knew  the  old  Mexican  up  to  the  time  of  his  death 
near  Owens  Lake. 

Flores  and  a  few  companions  were  on  the 
ground  later  in  1865  and  located  the  Ygnacio,  San 
Felipe  and  San  Francisco  claims.  A  small  amount 
of  ore  was  worked  in  the  vesos,  or  crude  furnaces. 
Their  success  brought  a  few  Americans  to  the 
camp ;  the  latter  people  made  some  locations,  but 
did  little  or  no  work. 

The  first  sincere  effort  at  development  was 
made  by  a  Mexican  named  Ochoa,  who  began  work 
on  a  claim  known  as  the  San  Lucas.  He  employed 
a  few  of  his  countrymen,  and  had  the  ore  worked 
at  the  Silver  Sprout  mill,  west  of  Independence. 
An  increased  number  of  miners  came,  and  on 
April  5,  1866,  Lone  Pine  district,  including  the 
new  camp,  was  organized,  with  J.  J.  Moore  as  its 
Recorder.  The  first  claim  offered  for  record  was 
the  Jesus  Maria.  On  January  1,  1870,  999  loca- 
tions had  been  filed  for  record  in  the  district. 

250  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

Among  the  early  arrivals  were  M.  W.  Belshaw 
and  A.  B.  Elder.  After  examination  they  left,  but 
soon  returned  to  begin  development.  Elder  was 
succeeded  by  Victor  Beaudry.  Belshaw  &  Beaudry 
remained  the  bonanza  firm  of  the  hill;  with  them 
were  associated  Egbert  Judson  and  others  as  par- 
ties in  interest. 

To  supply  the  water  required  for  the  camp 
Belshaw  &  Beaudry  laid  a  pipe  line,  which  froze 
and  bursted  the  following  winter,  and  was  then 
replaced  by  a  better  system.  The  firm  began  ac- 
quiring control  of  ' '  the  hill, ' '  as  the  camp  was  gen- 
erally called  throughout  the  region.  Among  their 
purchases  was  a  group  of  four  claims  for  which 
they  paid  John  B.  White  and  P.  Williams  $20,000. 
Important  ground  adjoining  the  Union,  one  of 
their  chief  properties,  remained  independent,  how- 
ever, and  under  the  same  ownership  as  the  Owens 
Lake  Silver-Lead  Company  later  became  the  basis 
of  the  suit  which  helped  to  check  operations. 

C.  F.  R.  Hahn,  the  mystery  of  whose  loss  has 
been  mentioned  in  this  record,  was  one  of  the  dis- 
coverers of  wholly  new  ground  to  the  eastward  of 
the  main  camp.  W.  L.  Hunter,  John  Beveridge 
and  others  of  honored  Inyo  memory  were  also 
among  the  owners  in  the  eastern  section. 

Two  slagging  furnaces,  two  blast  furnaces, 
crusher,  blower  and  other  equipment  were  in  use 
in  the  camp  by  1870,  all  operated  by  steam  and 
all  well  housed.  In  1871  the  use  of  slagging  fur- 
naces was  done  away  with,  decreasing  expenses 
$50  a  day  at  each  furnace.  Another  improvement 
was  the  application  of  the  water  jacket,  first  de- 
vised and  used  by  Belshaw. 

CEKRO    GORDO  251 

One  of  the  first  undertakings  was  a  tollroad  up 
from  Owens  Valley,  a  few  miles  distant.  The 
road  was  held  by  Belshaw  &  Beaudry,  though 
others  assisted  in  its  building  for  the  benefit  of 
their  own  properties.  Those  others  found  them- 
selves on  the  same  footing  as  strangers  when  it 
came  to  paying  tolls.  Their  objections  ended  with 
complaints  until  1871,  when  citizen  John  Simpson 
was  arrested  for  misdemeanor  in  passing  the 
tollgate  without  paying.  To  secure  a  jury  used 
up  venires  amounting  to  ninety  men ;  the  Justice 
court  trial  filled  two  days,  and  ended  in  a  verdict 
of  not  guilty.  A  popular  subscription  was  imme- 
diately raised  and  a  free  road  was  built  to  Cerro 
Gordo.    The  toll  road  went  out  of  commission. 

Two  stage  companies  ran  daily  conveyances 
from  Lone  Pine,  every  vehicle  carrying  full  loads. 
A  through-service  line  ran  between  Aurora, 
Nevada,  and  Cerro  Gordo,  charging  $39  for  the 

When  the  not  always  dependable  pipe  lines 
were  out  of  order,  water  was  brought  in  on  pack 
mules  and  sold  at  10  cents  per  gallon  for  the 
small  buyer  and  from  5  to  S%  cents  for  the  whole- 
sale consumer.  The  water  bill  of  the  American 
Hotel  was  $300  a  month,  and  each  furnace  and 
the  Union  hoist  ran  at  a  daily  expense  of  $120  for 
water.  Fifty  pack  mules  were  busy  in  the  water 

In  1872  Beaudry  bought  the  San  Lucia  (or 
San  Lucas)  and  added  it  to  the  syndicate's  list. 
Eleven  producing  mines  were  being  operated.  In 
addition  to  the  furnaces  at  the  camp,  ore  was  being 

252  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

smelted  at  the  Owens  Lake  Silver-Lead  company's 
plant  at  Swansea,  at  the  lake. 

While  the  bulk  of  production  came  from  ores 
of  more  moderate  grade,  values  up  to  $800  or 
more  per  ton  were  too  common  to  attract  much 
attention.  One  of  the  mines  counted  rock  carry- 
ing 180  ounces  of  silver  as  its  second-class  grade. 
Beaudry  reported  in  1872  that  ''the  mine"  (prob- 
ably the  Union)  was  sending  up  70  tons  of  ore 
each  ten  hours.  He  was  about  to  increase  his 
furnace  capacity  to  ten  tons  of  bullion  daily.  Each 
furnace  was  then  turning  out  100  to  150  83-pound 
bars  each  twenty-four  hours. 

Transportation  of  the  bullion  was  a  problem, 
and  it  was  not  unusual  for  the  furnaces  to  shut 
down  because  of  being  too  far  ahead  of  the  teams. 
For  a  while  hauling  contracts  were  made  with  any 
and  all  comers,  but  this  proved  unsatisfactory,  and 
the  mine  owners  organized  the  Cerro  Gordo 
Freighting  Company.  They  associated  Nadeau,  a 
teamster,  with  them;  he  took  active  charge,  and 
made  a  fortune  from  the  service.  The  corporation 
became  the  dominant  factor  in  Liyo  transporta- 
tion, and  so  remained  up  to  the  advent  of  the  rail- 
road. The  line  was  equipped  with  huge  wagons, 
each  hauled  by  sixteen  to  twenty  animals.  Fifty- 
six  of  these  outfits  were  on  the  road,  and  still  could 
not  move  the  bullion  to  tidewater  half  as  fast  as  it 
rolled  from  the  furnaces.  Some  relief  was  given  by 
the  building  of  the  small  steamer  Bessie  Brady,  a 
craft  of  85  feet  length  and  16  feet  beam.  This 
vessel  plying  between  Swansea,  at  the  north- 
eastern comer  of  the  lake,  Ferguson's  Landing, 


at  the  northwestern,  and  Cartago,  at  the  south- 
western, took  eight  days  out  of  the  round  trips 
of  the  teams,  yet  the  increased  number  of  trips 
of  the  wagons  could  not  move  the  bullion  fast 
enough.  To  see  the  bullion  piled  up  like  cordwood 
at  different  points  was  quite  the  usual  thing. 
Piled  up  bars  were  sometimes  used  for  construct- 
ing temporary  shelters,  by  those  without  other 
resources.  "WTiile  the  bullion  was  not  high  grade, 
those  shacks  were  often  worth  more  money  than 
their  occupants  ever  dreamed  of  possessing. 

A  contemporary  estimate  stated  the  bullion 
output  in  tons  as  follows :  1869, 1,000 ;  1870, 1,500 ; 
1871,  2,500;  1872,  4,000;  1873,  5,000;  1874,  6,000. 
An  authentic  record  of  at  least  part  of  the  output 
is  afforded  by  the  records  of  the  Los  Angeles  and 
San  Pedro  Railroad,  opened  November  1,  1869. 
From  that  date  to  the  end  of  1870  the  road  car- 
ried 21,704  bars,  1,589,000  pounds  of  Cerro  Gordo 
bullion;  1871,  51,000  bars,  4,491,000  pounds;  1872, 
62,390  bars,  5,303,150  pounds ;  1873,  58,056  bars, 
4,826,741  pounds;  during  January,  1874,  9,570 
bars,  789,961  pounds.  During  some  of  the  period 
of  greatest  production  a  large  part  of  the  bullion 
did  not  go  over  that  road. 

Large  mining  locations  were  permitted.  The 
Santa  Maria,  for  example,  was  3,000  feet  in 
length,  though  but  150  feet  wide.  It  was  1872  be- 
fore any  change  was  made  in  the  district;  it  was 
then  reorganized  under  the  name  of  Cerro  Gordo 
and  regulations  were  adopted  conforming  to  the 
newly  made  Federal  requirements. 

The  San  Felipe  claim  was  one  that  Belshaw  & 


254  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

Beaudry  were  unable  to  secure.  Inspection  of  a 
map  of  the  district  shows  that  its  boundaries 
crossed  Belshaw's  ground,  outlining  an  area  to 
which  both  ownerships  laid  claim.  Ore  had  been 
coming  up  through  the  Union  shaft,  near  the 
doubly-claimed  ground,  for  five  years,  however, 
before  the  inevitable  litigation  began.  Suit  was 
started  in  January,  1873,  by  the  San  Felipe  com- 
pany, Galen  M.  Fisher,  Chas.  H.  Wheeler  and 
Alfred  Wheeler,  plaintiffs,  against  Belshaw  & 
Beaudry,  to  recover  possession  of  2,100  feet  of  the 
San  Felipe  mine — another  illustration  of  the  gen- 
erous manner  in  which  the  locators  had  helped 
themselves.  The  plaintiffs  also  asked  for  $20,000 
damages,  and  rents  and  profits  amounting  to 
$1,000,000;  also  for  possession  of  the  San  Felipe 
tunnel  and  $15,000  damages  on  that  account.  The 
suit  was  tried  in  Independence  in  June,  1873,  and 
occupied  nine  days.  Judge  Belden  of  San  Jose, 
presiding,  instructed  the  jury  that  if  it  found  that 
the  San  Felipe  and  Union  veins  were  separate  its 
verdict  should  be  for  the  latter  company.  Ex- 
perts Goodyear,  Price  and  Henscli  swore  to  the 
distinct  character  of  the  two  properties.  Reports 
of  the  case  may  have  been  somewhat  prejudiced, 
but  rather  favored  the  Union  contention;  never- 
theless the  San  Felipe  people  were  given  posses- 
sion of  the  disputed  ground.  The  demands  for 
damages  seem  to  have  been  dropped,  for  they  do 
not  appear  in  the  judgment.  The  suit  dragged 
through  the  courts  until  in  1876  the  warring  inter- 
ests united  in  forming  the  Union  Consolidated 
Company,  with  representatives  of  each  side  on 

CERBO    GORDO  255 

the  directorate.  Belshaw  was  one  of  the  directors, 
but  did  not  thereafter  participate  in  the  manage- 
ment. The  Union  works  were  burned  August  14, 
1877;  the  furnaces  closed  down  the  following 

Other  properties,  notably  the  Ygnacio,  had 
been  contributing  to  the  camp's  production  during 
all  this  period;  but  the  stoppage  of  work  on  the 
Union  marked  the  end  of  that  era  of  Cerro  Gordo 's 
activity.  The  verdict  that  the  mines  were  worked 
out  was  of  course  commonly  accepted ;  the  fallacy 
of  this  belief  was  to  be  amply  demonstrated  later. 

From  December  1,  1873,  to  November  1,  1874, 
the  Union  produced  12,171  tons  of  ore  averaging 
87  ounces  silver  and  47  per  cent  lead  per  ton.  "With 
silver  worth  $1.29  per  ounce  and  lead  worth  5 
cents  per  pound,  conditions  were  more  favorable 
than  those  which  came  along  later.  On  the  other 
hand,  other  conditions  were  much  less  favorable. 
The  daily  cost  of  water,  already  mentioned,  was 
but  a  small  item  in  the  total.  Transportation  for 
machinery  and  supplies  in,  and  bullion  out,  cost 
from  $55.50  to  $120  per  ton.  Wood  had  been 
abundant  when  the  first  work  was  done,  but  the 
hillsides  near  at  hand  were  soon  swept  bare,  and 
fuel  rose  to  $10  a  cord  for  wood  and  321^  cents  a 
bushel  for  charcoal,  the  only  fuels  available  for 
the  furnaces.  Belshaw  stated  in  1876  that  it  cost 
$19.62  a  ton  to  mine  and  work  the  ore.  In  the 
earlier  days,  average  recovery  of  metal  was  from 
50  to  65  per  cent  of  the  lead  and  90  per  cent  of 
the  silver. 

An  incident  of  the  camp  was  the  discovery  that 

256  THE    STOEY   OP    INYO 

muoh  quartz  richly  laden  with  gold  had  gone  over 
the  dump  as  waste.  Its  value  had  been  hidden  by 
peculiar  discoloration.  Thousands  of  dollars  of  it 
were  stolen  by  men  who  became  informed  sooner 
than  did  the  mine  management. 

One  company  or  lessee  after  another  undertook 
to  work  the  old  mines  after  the  Union  Consoli- 
dated people  quit,  but  for  three  decades  the  record 
was  one  of  failure.  Then  in  1911  Louis  D.  Gordon 
took  hold,  after  discovering  that  quantities  of  zinc 
ores  had  been  thrown  away  or  disregarded  by 
former  managements.  He  proceeded  with  devel- 
opment along  original  lines,  under  discouraging 
circumstances,  with  such  results  that  Cerro  Gordo 
once  more  made  Inyo  the  leading  California 
county  in  lead  and  silver  as  well  as  zinc  produc- 



Cerro  Gordo  having  passed  through  the  pre- 
liminary stages  of  a  mining-camp  stampede,  and 
being  an  established  and  producing  camp,  the '  *  ex- 
citement" followers  were  ready  for  a  new  field. 
It  soon  appeared,  in  Panamint — a  name  which 
divers  fiction  writers  use  even  to  this  day  as  a 
place  for  locating  some  of  their  imaginings. 

The  first  discoveries  were  made  in  April,  1873, 
by  R.  C.  Jacobs,  R.  B.  Stewart  and  W.  L.  Ken- 
nedy. By  June  eighty  or  more  locations  had  been 
made.  Some  of  the  ore  samples  showed  values 
running  into  the  thousands  of  dollars.  E.  P. 
Raines,  a  man  of  daring  character  but  limited  at- 
tainments, secured  a  bond  on  the  principal  claims, 
and  undertook  to  finance  the  camp.  No  success 
met  his  first  efforts,  and  he  had  to  return  to  Pana- 
mint for  samples  of  the  ore  as  verification  of  his 
highly  colored  statements.  He  selected  half  a  ton 
of  rich  samples,  and  sent  it  to  Los  Angeles.  In 
the  barroom  of  one  of  the  principal  hotels  there 


258  THE    STORY   OF    INYO 

he  made  a  display  that  was  the  talk  of  the  town. 
He  made  no  effort  to  do  business,  but  gained  the 
confidence  of  prominent  citizens  and  induced  a 
commercial  body  to  take  up  the  building  of  a  road 
to  the  mines.  His  efforts  resulted  in  much  news- 
paper publicity,  which  stood  him  in  good  stead 
when  he  proceeded  to  San  Francisco,  his  chosen 
field.  ''Colonel"  Raines,  as  he  was  soon  dubbed, 
went  to  the  metropolis  and  his  display  of  ores 
made  as  much  of  a  furore  there  as  it  had  in  Los 
Angeles.  He  approached  Senator  John  P.  Jones 
and  secured  a  loan  of  $1,000,  which  vanished  in  a 
huge  celebration  that  night.  The  next  morning 
Eaines  was  in  jail  and  Senator  Jones  was  on  his 
way  to  Washington.  The  "Colonel"  found  a 
friend  who  provided  bail  and  loaned  him  money 
enough  with  which  to  go  to  Washington.  There 
he  presented  the  cause  of  the  Panamint  mines  so 
plausibly  that  Jones  advanced  more  money,  to  the 
total  of  $15,000.  Then  Senators  Jones  and  Stewart 
organized  the  Panamint  Mining  Company,  with 
$2,000,000  capital  stock — and  it  is  said  that  the 
camp  cost  those  gentlemen  just  about  that  much. 

The  road  to  the  camp  at  that  time  was  by  way 
of  Little  Lake,  or  Lagunita,  as  it  was  then  called. 
The  first  rush  went  that  way,  but  ere  long  a  more 
convenient  way  was  opened  and  Panamint  was 
brought  into  closer  touch  with  Owens  Valley. 

Senators  Jones  and  Stewart  had  paid  $350,000 
for  some  of  the  more  prominent  claims.  Many 
other  sales  were  made.  Some  of  the  early  locators 
bore  unsavory  reputations,  and  perforce  had  to 
do  business  through  trusted  middlemen.    In  one 


instance,  a  sale  was  made  and  the  owners  went  to 
San  Francisco  to  get  their  money.  At  this  junc- 
ture representatives  of  Wells,  Fargo-  &  Co. 
stepped  in  and  demanded  $12,000  to  cover  losses 
due  to  former  depredations  on  the  express  com- 
pany's treasure  box  by  some  of  the  parties  who 
were  selling  the  mines.  The  party  chiefly  con- 
cerned was  given  his  choice  of  making  that  pay- 
ment or  submitting  to  arrest.  He  paid  and  coolly 
asked  for  a  receipt  in  full. 

Many  companies  were  organized,  nearly  all 
finally  either  flickering  out  or  being  united  in  the 
Surprise  Valley  Mill  &  Mining  Company.  Some 
of  the  ore  was  worked  in  England;  that  it  could 
be  mined,  shipped  hundreds  of  miles  over  the 
desert,  then  to  England,  and  finally  worked  and 
return  a  substantial  profit  to  the  mine  owners  is 
suflficient  evidence  of  its  value. 

The  first  mill  was  built  on  the  Jacob's  Wonder 
mine.  The  ' '  big  mill ' '  of  twenty  stamps  was  built 
by  the  company  and  began  running  June  29,  1875. 

In  March,  1874,  an  enthusiastic  Panaminter 
claimed  that  there  were  125  men  in  the  camp.  In 
November  the  most  conservative  estimate  of  popu- 
lation put  it  at  1,000.  The  maximum  population 
was  probably  1,500,  though  a  San  Francisco  writer 
in  January,  1875,  said  there  were  2,000  to  2,500  in 
camp.  As  late  as  1876  the  camp  was  still  ''going 
strong,"  for  there  were  963  votes  cast  at  an  elec- 
tion for  Recorder. 

The  main  camp  was  laid  out — or  more  properly 
speaking,  laid  itself  out,  along  the  bottom  of  a  nar- 
row canyon  high  up  on  the  western  slope  of  the 

260  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

Panamint  Mountains,  which  form  the  western  rim 
of  Death  Valley.  For  a  while  it  consisted  of  a 
mile  of  tent-lined  street;  then  stone  and  frame 
buildings  began  to  arise.  This  was  after  trans- 
portation had  been  improved  by  the  building  of  a 
road,  a  process  requiring,  in  some  places,  the 
blasting  of  a  way  out  of  solid  rock. 

A  pioneer  resident  of  the  camp  writes  that  few 
wagons  were  used  after  reaching  the  town,  be- 
cause the  canyon  and  hillsides  were  so  steep  that 
wheels  were  useless.  Nearly  all  transportation 
at  that  period  was  on  the  backs  of  mules  and 
burros.  But  one  wagon  was  in  use  in  the  camp, 
and  it  was  used  by  the  butcher  to  move  meats 
from  the  slaughter  house  to  the  market.  This 
outfit  served  many  purposes,  including  service  as 
a  hearse  when  it  was  needed. 

Undoubtedly  Panamint  contained  an  assort- 
ment of  the  worst  desperadoes  on  the  coast  out- 
side of  the  penitentiaries.  There  was  as  much 
violence,  in  proportion,  as  in  any  of  the  earlier 
camps.  The  disappearance  of  a  well  known  deni- 
zen of  the  resorts  might  be  explained  to  an  in- 
quirer by  the  terse  statement :  *  *  Oh,  he 's  planted 
in  Sour  Dough,"  the  latter  being  a  little  canyon 
in  which  the  burial  ground  was  situated. 

Senator  Wm.  Stewart  and  Trenor  W.  Park, 
his  confidential  agent  and  assistant,  visited  Pana- 
mint to  look  over  their  properties  during  the  sum- 
mer of  1875.  As  they  were  preparing  to  take  their 
seats  in  the  stage,  on  the  morning  of  their  de- 
parture, one  of  their  employees,  a  man  named 
McKinley,  had  a  dispute  with  one  Jim  Bruce. 


With  but  a  few  preliminaries  the  disputants  pulled 
their  guns  and  began  firing.  The  Senator  and  his 
comrade  hastily  took  refuge  behind  a  stone  wall 
until  the  bombardment  was  over.  Both*  gunners 
were  laid  out  and  ready  for  the  stretchers  kept  in 
the  office  of  the  Justice  of  the  Peace  for  such  uses. 
Bruce  recovered  with  a  crippled  arm,  but  McKin- 
ley  died  three  days  later.  The  local  paper  casually 
remarked : 

An  Unfortunate  Affair. — We  are  pained  to  record  that 
during  an  unfortunate  affair  which  occurred  at  the  express 
office,  previous  to  the  departure  of  the  stage  three  days  ago, 
one  of  our  esteemed  fellow  citizens  was  compelled  to  resort  to 
violent  measures  to  protect  his  person.  His  opponent  will  be 
buried  tomorrow  in  the  little  cemetery  in  Sour  Dough. 

The  matter  was  too  inconsequential  to  justify 
publishing  the  victim's  name. 

Bruce  was  put  to  the  inconvenience  of  arrest 
and  examination  by  the  Justice  of  the  Peace,  but 
was  discharged  on  the  usual  ground  of  self-de- 

In  all  mining  camps  of  that  period  saloons  were 
among  the  first  establishments  to  open,  and  were 
the  most  numerous  places  in  the  business  census. 
The  only  absolute  requisites  for  beginning  were 
a  barrel  or  two  of  alcoholic  compound  and  utensils 
for  dishing  it  up  for  customers.  Profits  soon  led 
to  expansion.  Panamint  had  not  only  this  class 
of  deadfalls  but  also  *'gin  mills"  of  much  more 
pretensions.  One  of  these,  fitted  up  at  a  cost  of 
$10,000,  was  the  property  of  Dave  Nagle,  the  man 
who  some  years  later  shot  and  killed  Judge  Terry, 
of  early  California  notoriety.    The  opening  of  a 

262  THE    STORY   OF    INYO 

better  class  saloon  in  Panamint  is  thus  described 
by  one  who  saw  much  of  the  camp's  life : 

The  representative  men  in  camp  were  duly  notified  and  in- 
vited to  be  present;  they  always  were  duly  expected  to  be 
there  and  they  always  were,  if  not  prevented  by  a  previous 
drunk  or  ill  luck  in  a  shooting  scrape.  The  leading  mining  su- 
perintendent, who  represented  companies  expending  a  million 
or  more,  was  counted  on  for  an  expenditure  of  at  least  $500, 
and  he  never  disappointed  the  boys.  The  festivities  usually 
opened  early  and  mildly,  with  free  drinks  to  any  and  all 
visitors,  who  were  cordially  invited  to  partake  often  and  stay 
all  night.  The  latter  request  was  usually  put  in  such  liberal 
spirit  as  to  impress  all  with  its  honesty,  for  later  on  when  the 
fun  grew  furious  each  head  counted  in  the  score  for  a  drink, 
which  were  ordered  by  men  amply  able  to  pay  in  cash,  or  by 
check  "good  as  wheat"  on  presentation  at  the  company's  of- 

As  the  night  grew  on  and  the  fun  increased  there  was  no 
limit  to  the  number  except  as  the  common  guzzlers  fell  by 
the  wayside.  The  "tony  crowd"  were  left  to  indulge  in  cham- 
pagne in  quantities  unlimited.  It  often  resulted  in  a  rivalry 
of  wild  pandemonium,  for  as  the  barkeeper  drank  often  he 
became  very  tired  and  would  expedite  his  labors  in  filling  an 
order  for  a  basket  of  champagne  by  placing  it  on  the  floor, 
removing  the  lid  and  directing  the  revelers  to  help  themselves. 
This  generally  occurred  during  the  early  morning  hours. 
Often  the  roisterers  had  divested  themselves  of  most  of  their 
clothing,  and,  whooping  like  Indians,  would  march  around 
the  open  basket,  each  with  a  bottle  in  his  hand,  drinking,  and 
firing  their  revolvers  into  the  floor  or  up  into  the  ceiling.  Then 
was  the  time  to  look  for  bad  blood,  and  hostilities  opened 
between  rival  "bad  men,"  who  were  in  numbers  sufficient  to 
rule  the  camp,  and  who  took  such  opportunities  to  even  up  old 
scores.  On  such  occasions  very  often  a  man  would  be  killed, 
when  the  crowd  would  scatter  and  the  festivities  stop.  The 
slayer  would  be  duly  arrested,  taken  to  his  cabin  by  a  con- 
stable and  allowed  to  take  a  nap.  Later  in  the  day  he  would 
be  taken  before  the  Justice,  who  after  hearing  evidence  would 


invariably,  out  of  deference  to  the  ruling  element,  discharge 
the  defendant  on  the  ground  of  self-defense. 

Gambling  there,  as  in  other  camps,  was  on  a 
scale  corresponding  to  the  general  wide-openness. 
Fortunes  changed  hands  on  trivial  hazards;  a 
sample  poker  game  opened  with  an  initial  bet  of 
$1,000,  which  was  "seen"  and  ''raised"  $4,000 
more,  so  that  a  "pot"  of  $10,000  was  ready  for 
the  winner  when  he  "showed  down"  a  pair  of 
aces  and  a  pair  of  sixes.  And  there  were  other 
games  of  much  larger  proportions. 

Mention  has  been  made  of  the  local  paper. 
This  was  a  sheet  containing  four  pages,  each 
measuring  a  little  less  than  seven  by  fourteen 
inches,  including  generous  margins.  Its  first  copy 
was  dated  November  26, 1874,  and  bore  the  names 
of  D.  P.  Carr  as  editor  and  T.  S.  Harris  as  man- 
ager. Issue  No.  2,  on  the  28th,  notified  the  public 
that  Carr  was  no  longer  connected  with  the  paper ; 
issue  No.  3,  December  1st,  denounced  the  late  part- 
ner as  an  unprincipled  deadbeat  who  had  col- 
lected ahead  for  work  in  sight  and  left  for  other 

The  Panamint  News,  tri-weekly,  cost  its  sub- 
scribers 50  cents  a  week,  $2  a  month  by  carrier, 
$1.50  a  month  by  mail.  Advertising  in  it  cost  $4  a 
month  for  four  lines,  or  75  cents  per  line  per  issue. 

Some  quotations  from  its  columns  will  help  to 
depict  conditions : 

The  town  of  Panamint  now  consists  of  twenty-six  frame 
and  board  buildings  besides  a  large  number  of  stockades  and 
tents.  Within  the  next  month,  if  lumber  can  be  had,  at  least 
one  hundred  buildings  will  be  erected. 

264  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

Meals  can  be  had  for  75  cents  at  one  restaurant  and  $1  at 

Market  prices:  Flour  per  100  lbs.,  $8.50  and  $9;  bacon, 
per  lb.,  28c;  ham,  30c;  meats,  20c  and  30c;  potatoes,  10c; 
sugar,  20e  and  25c;  butter,  75c  and  $1;  apples,  25c;  barley, 
8c  and  10c;  hay,  6c  to  10c;  eggs,  per  dozen,  $1  to  $2. 

There  are  now  over  600  locations  in  the  district.  The  ores 
are  mainly  copper-silver  glance  and  chloride  of  silver.  Assays 
and  working  tests  show  values  of  from  $100  to  $4,000,  the 
average  being  about  $400. 

The  Cerro  Gordo  Freighting  Company  is  running  a  line 
of  teams  from  Cerro  Gordo  to  Panamint;  freight  5  cents  per 

The  Fourth  of  July,  1875,  was  duly  celebrated 
in  Panamint.  The  same  little  butcher's  cart  which 
had  been  used  impartially  for  hauling  carcasses 
of  beeves  and  of  roughs  who  had  died  with  their 
boots  on  was  on  this  occasion  made  to  do  service 
as  a  car  of  state.  It  was  preceded  by  the  **band," 
consisting  (an  eye  witness  states)  of  a  tuba  and  a 
bass  drum.  When  the  procession  reached  the 
point  for  turning  to  countermarch,  the  canyon  was 
so  narrow  that  the  outfit  had  to  be  lifted  around 
by  man-power.  In  the  vehicle  was  a  young  lady, 
representing  the  Goddess  of  Liberty  and  three 
little  girls,  all  there  were  in  camp.  This  is 
the  way  editor  Harris  described  it : 

The  Car  of  State  was  decorated  by  Grand  Marshal  Paris 
and  Mr.  Stebbins,  and  reflected  much  credit  on  those  gentle- 
men for  its  gorgeous  beauty.  It  was  brought  into  the  proces- 
sion at  the  proper  time,  filled  with  the  young  ladies  and  chil- 
dren of  Panamint. 

He  avoided  contradicting  the  inferences  of  his 
flowery  account  by  ''being  unable  to  obtain  for 
publication  the  names  of  the  children." 


An  incident  of  the  place  was  the  adoption  by 
a  miners '  meeting,  of  a  resolution  excluding  Chi- 

The  rich  ores  were  there,  but  in  most  cases  in 
such  metallurgical  combinations  as  to  defy  the 
working  processes  in  vogue.  While  some  money 
was  recovered  from  them,  the  yield  was  not  com- 
mensurate with  the  cost  of  recovery.  Stewart  and 
Jones  tired  of  spending  huge  sums  in  trying  to 
overcome  the  drawbacks.  They  persisted,  how- 
ever, for  more  than  two  years,  but  in  May,  1877, 
the  end  of  that  regime  came  in  the  shutting  down 
of  the  Surprise  Valley  mill. 





Most  of  the  Inyo  mining  districts  now  known 
were  discovered  within  a  few  years  of  the  rise  of 
Cerro  Gordo.  Some  attracting  much  attention  at 
the  time  are  unknown  to  the  Inyoite  of  today; 
others  are  still  on  the  producing  list. 

A  fact  that  impresses  the  investigator  in  con- 
nection with  those  discoveries  was  the  invariable 
belief  of  the  finder  that  he  had  come  upon  one  of 
the  greatest  bonanzas  on  record.  "The  biggest 
mine  in  the  world,"  **the  most  important  mining 
discovery  ever  made  in  the  county,"  *'a  find  that 
will  surpass  Cerro  Gordo,"  "a  perfect  Com- 
stock,"  are  bona  fide  sample  phrases  from  de- 
scriptions of  prospects  which  long  since  have  been 
abandoned.  Truly  the  prospector  is  ever  opti- 
mistic. Had  every  find  measured  up  to  the  claim 
made  for  it,  gold  and  silver  would  have  become 
but  common  metals. 

Waucoba  was  one  of  the  first  of  the  new  dis- 
tricts. Its  discovery  date  is  unknown.  Col. 
James  Brady  was  actively  at  work  there  in  1872, 



and  the  Waucoba  Mining  and  Smelting  Company 
built,  in  1873,  a  road  which  is  still  in  use  for  reach- 
ing latter-day  producing  properties  in  that  gen- 
eral vicinity. 

Pigeon  Springs  and  Log  Springs  were  among 
the  bidders  for  favor  in  1873.  Another  district  of 
that  year  was  Sylvania,  organized  June  14th,  and 
situated  on  the  Nevada  border  line.  W.  S.  Kin- 
caid  was  its  discoverer.  Two  later  revivals  and 
the  expenditure  of  much  money  are  in  its  record. 

Some  of  the  other  locations  of  the  period  was 
the  Lucky  Jim  property  in  1875,  which  was  sold 
that  same  year  by  James  Ferguson,  who  after- 
ward organized  the  New  Coso  Mining  Company. 
Ubehebe,  for  some  time  known  as  Rose  Springs 
district,  was  found  by  W.  L.  Hunter,  J.  B.  Hunter, 
J.  L.  Porter  and  Thomas  McDonough  in  1875. 
They  sold  to  M.  W.  Belshaw,  who  talked  of  build- 
ing reduction  works,  probably  in  Saline  Valley, 
but  did  not  carry  out  the  plan.  Beveridge  dis- 
trict, named  for  pioneer  John  Beveridge,  was  dis- 
covered by  W.  L.  Hunter  and  others  in  1877. 
Poleta  provided  the  mining  excitement  of  1881. 
Prospecting  had  gone  on  in  the  White  Mountains 
east  of  Bishop  from  the  earliest  coming  of  white 
settlers,  with  such  results  that  more  than  one  am- 
bitious ''city"  had  been  staked  out,  only  to  be 
forgotten.  In  all  probability  some  of  the  claims 
which  changed  hands  for  thousands  during  the 
days  of  Poleta  were  on  the  same  ground  that  made 
Keyes  District  the  hope  of  prospectors  in  the  mid- 
dle '60s. 

These    were    all    discoveries    that   could   be 

268  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

matched  many  times  over,  in  the  matter  of  real 
results.  The  finding  of  Darwin  was  of  more  con- 
sequence. It  became  the  successor  of  Panamint  in 
public  interest,  in  1876,  and  today,  over  two  score 
years  later,  still  has  promise.  It  had  a  boom  next 
in  importance,  in  this  county,  to  Cerro  Gordo  and 
Panamint.  Furnaces  were  built  to  smelt  its  rich 
ores;  water  was  piped  into  the  camp.  Harris 
moved  his  printing  office  from  Panamint,  and  pro- 
duced a  paper  of  high  merit.  Hundreds  of  men 
were  employed  in  the  mines  and  mills.  The  usual 
factor  of  assisted  mortality  developed,  but  while 
life  was  held  cheaply  by  a  certain  class  of  the 
population  the  place  was  less  absolutely  wild  than 
its  more  prominent  predecessors. 

Two  booming  camps  that  were  products  of 
later  years  were  Greenwater  and  Skidoo.  The 
record  of  Greenwater  has  few  parallels  in  its  sud- 
den rise,  great  outlays,  small  returns  and  quick 
decline.  Locations  had  been  made  there  as  early 
as  1884,  and  others  were  made  in  1894  by  Doctor 
Trotter,  for  gold  and  silver  values.  Inaccessibility 
caused  all  these  claims  to  be  abandoned — though 
that  quality  seems  to  contribute  to  the  success  of 
**  excitements, "  once  they  are  fairly  launched.  It 
was  high  grade  copper  ore  that  caused  the  final 
rush,  twenty  years  later  than  the  locations  for 
more  precious  metals. 

The  camp  was  situated  on  the  sunrise  side  of 
the  Funeral  Mountains,  but  a  short  distance 
across  the  crest  from  where  the  slope  into  Death 
Valley  begins.  It  looked  out  easterly  over  hun- 
dreds of  miles  of  barren  waste.    The  Amargosa's 


bitter  flow,  twenty-four  miles  away,  was  the  most 
easily  reached  water  when  the  camp  began.  Ob- 
taining supplies  involved  hauling  for  many  miles 
over  roads  so  trying  that  the  portion  traversed  in 
approaching  the  claims  was  fittingly  named  Dead 
Horse  Gulch. 

Contemporary  newspaper  records  credit  the 
first  copper  discoveries  to  men  named  McAllister 
and  Cook,  with  whom  Arthur  Kunze  soon  became 
associated.  The  Copper  Blue  ledge  was  found  in 
February,  1905,  by  Fred  Bimey  and  Phil  Creaser, 
who  took  samples  of  the  outcrop  to  Independence 
when  they  went  there  to  record  their  claims. 
While  at  the  county  seat  they  sent  specimens  of 
the  ore  to  Patsy  Clark,  prominent  in  the  copper 
mining  world.  Clark  was  so  impressed  that  he 
sent  engineer  Joseph  P.  Harvey  to  investigate. 
Harvey,  leaving  the  railroad  at  Daggett,  Cal.,  lost 
his  outfit  in  a  cloudburst  at  Cave  Springs,  and  had 
to  go  back  for  a  fresh  start.  On  his  second  trip 
he  reached  the  right  locality,  but  owing  to  faulty 
directions  was  unable  to  find  the  claims.  Birney 
and  Creaser  afterward  went  there  and  did  some 
development  work,  and  again  sought  to  enlist 
Clark's  interest.  This  time  Clark  came  to  Ehyo- 
lite,  Nevada,  and  from  there  sent  Cleary,  another 
of  his  engineers,  to  make  the  examination.  The 
report  was  so  favorable  that  Clark  immediately 
bought  the  Birney  and  Creaser  holdings.  Dennis 
Clark,  brother  of  Patsy,  visited  the  prospects  and 
confirmed  previous  reports,  as  well  as  sending  in 
men  and  supplies  for  real  development.  Cleary 
also  sent  men  on  his  own  account,  and  became  the 


270  THE    STOBY    OF    INYO 

owner  of  some  of  the  most  prominent  locations  in 
the  district.  Others  who  promptly  invested  were 
Chas.  Schwab,  Augustus  Hei^ze,  T.  L.  Oddiie, 
F.  M.  (Borax)  Smith  and  others  hardly  less  prom- 
inent in  financial  affairs. 

Within  a  month  the  population  grew  from  70 
to  over  1,000,  with  at  least  a  hundred  newcomers 
over  the  desert  roads  every  day.  The  copper 
kings  who  had  taken  hold  began  hiring  all  appli- 
cants, with  the  purpose  of  the  speediest  possible 
development.  An  early  estimate  of  the  amount 
paid  for  claims  was  $4,125,000.  In  four  months 
and  twelve  days  from  the  camp 's  start  2,500  claims 
had  been  recorded.  Stakes  and  monuments  made 
a  practically  continuous  string  for  thirty  miles 
along  the  range,  ground  good,  bad  and  indifferent 
being  freely  located.  The  first  50,000  shares  of 
one  of  the  companies  were  sold  at  Rhyolite,  the 
nearest  settlement.  The  records  of  easy  and  quick 
fortunes  made  in  Tonopah  and  Goldfield  stocks 
made  marketing  of  shares  easy.  Prospectors  in 
many  cases  wisely  sold  their  claims,  for  ten, 
twenty  or  more  thousands  of  dollars — ^whatever 
''pocket  money"  they  could  get.  And  in  many 
instances  it  was  only  pocket  money,  for  it  was 
used  to  ''feed  the  tiger"  in  the  gambling  rooms 
and  for  other  cash-reducing  purposes. 

In  one  case,  an  engineer  grubstaked  a  pros- 
pector, who  located  a  claim  and  sold  it  for  $3,000, 
of  which  the  engineer  got  his  part.  The  buyer 
asked  the  same  engineer  the  next  morning  to  visit 
and  report  on  the  property,  and  was  told  it  was 
worthless.  To  be  a  party  to  locating  a  claim,  share 


in  the  proceeds  of  its  sale,  and  then  get  a  fee  for 
condemning  it  was  something  unique,  at  least.  It 
was  said,  however,  that  the  engineer  did  not  know 
that  he  was  reporting  on  his  own  claim; 

Greenwater  was  a  camp  "without  a  lid,"  but 
not  without  law  of  a  kind.  It  was  without  peace 
officers  for  months,  but  made  its  own  codes.  An 
instance:  One  night  an  elderly  man  was  robbed 
of  $80.  The  four  robbers  were  found  by  a  select 
committee,  and  were  instructed  to  be  on  the  main 
street  at  9  o'clock  the  next  morning.  Nearly  the 
whole  town  was  out  at  that  hour  to  observe  pro- 
ceedings. In  brief  and  pointed  remarks  the  cul- 
prits were  informed  that  they  had  thirty  minutes 
in  which  to  adjust  their  affairs  before  leaving. 
One  of  the  accused  thought  it  would  take  him  an 
hour  to  get  things  settled  so  he  could  leave,  but 
after  further  remarks  by  the  committee  he  found 
that  he  could  finish  his  business  and  get  away 
very  handily  within  the  time  set. 

The  barren  hills  afforded  little  fuel.  During 
a  storm  flurry  coal  sold  at  $100  a  ton  and  wood 
at  $60  a  cord.  Water  sold,  at  first,  at  $15  a  barrel, 
later  at  half  that  figure — and  small  wonder  at 
either  figure  since  it  had  to  be  hauled  from  twenty- 
eight  to  thirty-five  miles.  Lumber  cost  $165  for 
1,000  feet.  A  frame  store  35  by  60  feet,  unshin- 
gled,  cost  $5,400.  Hay  was  $6  and  $7  a  bale ;  grain 
$5  and  $6  a  sack;  gasoline  a  dollar  a  gallon  or  $10 
a  case;  potatoes  and  onions  10  to  12iA  cents  a 
pound ;  ice,  brought  from  Las  Vegas,  Nevada,  the 
last  fifty-five  miles  by  auto,  cost  $10  for  100 
pounds.    Wages  in  the  mines  were  $5  to  $7 ;  car- 

272  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

penters  got  $8  to  $10;  musicians  were  paid  $8, 
and  such  skilled  labor  as  faro  dealers  drew  $8  a 

The  postoffice  was  run  on  economical  lines. 
The  Nasby  in  charge  paid  his  clerks  $5  for  eight 
hours,  which  was  more  than  his  own  return  from 
the  Government.  Mail  went  into  a  box,  and  each 
individual  fished  out  his  own  letters. 

On  one  occasion  there  was  a  water  famine  in 
camp.  An  enterprising  resident  borrowed  a  team 
and  drove  to  Furnace  Creek,  twenty-eight  miles, 
returning  with  two  barrels  of  water.  One  was 
given  to  the  owner  of  the  team ;  the  other,  dished 
out  to  pails  and  canteens,  netted  about  $30. 

Though  in  the  heart  of  the  wilds,  Greenwater 
had  two  newspapers,  a  small  magazine,  a  $100,000 
bank,  express  and  telephone  service,  professional 
men  of  all  kinds,  and  of  course  all  ordinary  lines 
of  business. 

When  the  camp  began  to  show  signs  of  de- 
pression, a  man  named  McCarty  walked  into  a 
neighboring  saloon  and  remarked  to  the  owner: 
* '  Nichols,  two  saloons  on  this  side  of  the  street  are 
too  many;  I'll  shake  you  the  dice  to  see  whether 
you  take  mine  or  I  take  yours. ' '  Nichols,  without 
a  word,  reached  back  and  picked  up  a  dice  box, 
and  threw  five  sixes.  McCarty  shook  and  threw 
five  aces.  Nichols  picked  up  his  hat  and  started 
out.  ''Hold  on,"  said  McCarty;  ''take  a  drink." 
The  transaction  was  complete. 

The  stage  to  Greenwater  burned  one  afternoon, 
and  with  it  the  mailbags  containing  $30,000.  The 
driver's  first  knowledge  of  the  fire  was  when  a  bale 


of  hay  on  the  vehicle  blazed  up.  The  team  was 
cut  loose ;  the  rest  of  the  outfit  was  a  total  loss. 

It  was  from  that  locality  somewhere  that  a 
cheerful  wag  wrote  that  he  was  employed  on  the 
''graveyard  shift  in  the  Coffin  mine,  Tombstone 
Mountains,  Funeral  Range,  overlooking  Death 
Valley. ' '  The  graveyard  shift,  it  may  be  remarked 
for  the  benefit  of  readers  unacquainted  with  min- 
ing slang,  is  the  one  which  includes  midnight,  when 
sepulchers  traditionally  yawn. 

The  owning  corporations  spent  much  money 
in  trying  to  prove  their  mines.  The  ledges  "went 
down,"  but  values  of  encouraging  degree  ended 
at  about  200  feet  depth.  Workings  were  con- 
tinued far  underground,  while  various  Greenwater 
stocks  held  a  place  in  eastern  exchanges,  until 
finally  abandonment  was  necessary.  Some  of  the 
location  monuments  were  made  of  high  grade  ore 
and  were  included  in  the  shipments  made  to  smel- 
ters. The  last  watchman  on  the  ground,  it  was 
said,  was  a  rancher  whose  home  was  at  Ash  Mead- 
ows, on  the  Amargosa.  He  had  teams  and  wagons 
and  time  to  spare,  so  more  or  less  of  the  decadent 
city  may  still  serve  a  useful  purpose  in  a  changed 

Greenwater 's  nearest  neighbor  was  Skidoo,  on 
the  mountain  summit  on  the  western  edge  of  Death 
Valley.  That  camp  did  not  reach  Greenwater 's 
height  of  fame,  nor  did  it  fall  as  rapidly,  for  it 
was  a  producer  for  some  years  after  the  copper 
camp  had  become  as  deserted  as  when  the  Death 
Valley  party  of  '49  had  toiled  along  within  sight 
of  its  location.     The  Skidoovians  numbered  700 

274  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

or  more,  at  the  camp's  maximum.  A  bank  and  a 
newspaper  were  among  its  institutions.  Gold  and 
silver  ores  were  its  sources  of  production.  One 
of  its  contributions  to  the  records  was  a  lynching 
affair,  the  only  such  instance  in  Inyo  county  except 
the  summary  vengeance  taken  on  the  convicts  in 
1871.  The  Skidoo  affair  happened  April  22,  1908. 
The  desperado  whose  career  was  cut  short  was 
named  Joe  Simpson.  Three  days  earlier  he  had 
entered  the  bank  and  demanded  twenty  dollars. 
Being  refused  and  disarmed,  he  had  gone  away 
and  ''heeled  himself,"  returned  and  shot  a  clerk. 
As  he  had  previously  declared  an  intention  of  kill- 
ing four  other  citizens,  Skidoo  sentiment  fully 
coincided  with  the  paper's  page-wide  headline 
"Murderer  Lynched  with  General  Approval," 
and  its  comment  that ' '  the  removal  of  this  pest  by 
a  feeling  so  excellent  has  caused  a  feeling  of  re- 
lief throughout  the  camp."  There  was  certainly 
no  great  squeamishness  about  it,  for  when  a  resi- 
dent wanted  a  photograph  of  the  suspended  Simp- 
son's appearance  the  corpse  was  again  connected 
with  the  rope  and  put  into  the  position  occupied 
in  his  final  moments.  The  noose  was  treasured  as 
a  souvenir  by  a  morbid-minded  bartender.  An 
inquest  was  held,  at  which  one  witness  testified 
to  having  been  awakened  twenty-three  times  dur- 
ing the  night  to  hear  the  news,  and  he  had  been 
greatly  surprised  each  time.  Another  said  Joe 
"was  a  true  Bohemian — he  hung  around  all 
night. ' ' 

The  camp  was,  however,  above  the  average  in 
law  observance,  and  little  crime  occurred  in  it. 


The  finest  of  mountain  water  was  piped  many 
miles  from  high  up  on  Telescope  Peak.  Its  mining 
settled  to  a  one-company  basis,  and  in  time  its 
deposits  were,  apparently,  worked  out. 

A  new  mineral  was  added  to  Inyo 's  known  list 
(already  pronounced  by  authorities  to  be  more 
comprehensive  than  that  of  any  other  county), 
when  in  August,  1913,  James  Powning  picked  up 
tungsten  float  in  the  hills  west  of  Bishop,  at  a 
spot  where  he  had  gone  to  pick  up  a  rabbit  he  had 
shot.  The  claim  then  located  was  named  the  Jack- 
rabbit.  A.  W.  Nobles  and  C.  C.  Cooper  were  in 
partnership  with  him  in  the  find.  It  was  not  until 
the  spring  of  1916  that  sufficient  money  for  devel- 
oping the  claims  became  available,  when  F.  M. 
Townsend,  A.  J,  Clark  and  others  bought  the 
original  and  subsequent  locations.  Mills  were 
built,  one  of  them  the  largest  tungsten  concen- 
trating plant  in  the  w^orld.  Production  continued 
to  be  important  until  the  fall  of  prices  following 
the  Great  War  made  it  impossible  to  work  those 
and  other  large  properties  of  the  same  nature,  in 
that  general  locality,  at  a  profit. 

During  the  middle  '80s  large  marble  quarries 
were  opened  near  Keeler,  producing  a  material 
which  tests  proved  to  be  stronger  in  crushing  re- 
sistance than  any  other  known.  Much  marble  was 
taken  out  during  succeeding  years,  more  or  less  of 
it  being  used  for  finishing  some  of  the  coast's 
large  buildings.  This  form  of  production  will 
doubtless  continue  for  years  to  come. 

The  growth  of  another  mineral  industry  is  also 
to  be  noted,  in  the  reclamation  of  soda  and  other 

276  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

salts  from  the  heavily  mineralized  waters  of 
Owens  Lake.  Locations  on  the  shore  of  Owens 
Lake  were  made  in  the  early  months  of  1885,  by 
L.  F.  J.  Wrinkle,  for  the  purpose  of  constructing 
vats  in  which  to  evaporate  the  water  in  order  to 
recover  the  saline  contents.  Names  of  839  persons 
were  on  the  original  notices,  which  serves  to  indi- 
cate the  large  area  claimed.  The  Inyo  Develop- 
ment Company  was  formed  by  Nevada  capitalists, 
and  ever  since  has  continued  to  gather  the  residue 
from  those  vats.  Noah  Wrinkle,  son  of  the  orig- 
inal locator,  worked  out  a  chemical  process  by 
which  a  wider  range  of  products  was  obtained, 
and  less  dependent  on  the  density  of  the  water 
used.  This  was  the  basis  of  the  Natural  Soda 
Products  Company,  which  Watterson  Brothers 
took  up  at  a  critical  stage  of  the  company's  career, 
and  which  has  become  an  enterprise  as  great  in 
magnitude  as  it  is  unique  in  its  processes.  Others 
of  similar  nature  have  also  been  established  to 
reclaim  the  lake's  mineral  wealth. 

Saline  Valley,  containing  vast  beds  of  salt,  of 
a  grade  purer  in  its  natural  state  than  any  other 
known,  has  been  the  scene  of  some  development 
operation,  and  in  time  its  resources  may  come  to 
be  of  extensive  importance.  Another  yield  of  the 
burning  deserts  is  borax,  which  has  been  to  some 
extent  recovered  in  Saline  Valley,  but  principally 
mined  in  the  far  eastern  region  of  the  county  as 
more  fully  mentioned  in  a  later  chapter. 

Ballarat,  a  central  point  for  miners  in  the 
Panamints,  and  Modock,  Ubehebe,  Bishop  Creek, 
Bunker  Hill  and  other  camps  which  as  a  rule  have 


been  or  are  single-mine  enterprises  appear  in  the 
county's  mining  record;  however,  the  purpose  of 
these  chapters  is  not  to  review  details  but  to  note 
the  outstanding  facts  of  mining  progress. 



1861 — A      REFUGE      FOR      THE      LAWLESS — "bELLERIN' 




It  is  apparently  well  authenticated  that  Mor- 
mon emissaries  had  been  in  Death  Valley  pros- 
pecting even  before  Brier,  Manly,  Doty  and  their 
people  made  their  fatal  journey,  and  that  the  ori- 
gin of  Furnace  Creek's  naming  was  in  a  small 
roasting  plant  there  for  reducing  ores. 

The  first  visit  there  by  scientific  observers  was 
by  a  Dr.  Owen  and  other  members  of  the  State 
boundary  commission  in  1861.  The  Wheeler  ex- 
pedition went  there  in  1871,  and  in  1875  Lieut. 
Birney  and  party  crossed  Death  Valley  several 
times.  In  the  meantime  many  persons  without 
ofiicial  connections  had  been  there.  One  of  these 
was  W.  T.  Henderson,  mentioned  in  these  chron- 
icles. He  failed  to  find  the  elusive  Grunsight  lead 
— a  legacy  of  the  Death  Valley  party  of  1849 — 
but  he  did  w^hat  no  other  man  before  him  had 
done,  by  climbing  to  the  top  of  the  highest  of  the 
Panamints.  To  the  west  he  saw  the  Slate,  Argus 
and  other  ranges,  and  beyond  them  the  blue 
Sierras.    To  the  south  rose  the  Calico  range,  Pilot 



Butte,  and  the  far-off  San  Bernardinos.  North- 
west were  the  White  Mountains;  to  the  east,  the 
Funerals,  Avawatz,  and  one  unnamed  range  after 
another.  Two  miles  below  were  beds  of  salt,  soda, 
borax;  the  black  dots  of  lava  buttes;  mesquite 
trees  made  spots  of  dark  green;  apparent  stream 
channels  where  cloudbursts  had  ripped  open  the 
earth's  surface.  Telescope  Peak  he  named  the 
commanding  mountain,  and  Telescope  Peak  it  is 

Dr.  Darwin  French  visited  and  named  Fur- 
nace Creek,  in  1860.  Later  in  the  same  year  Dr. 
S.  Gr.  George  and  associates  were  there  and  found 
many  relics  of  the  emigrants  of  '49,  as  well  as  of 
later  travelers.  The  latter  were  accounted  for  by 
the  finding  of  skeletons,  some  of  them  in  the  vicin- 
ity of  springs.  One  of  his  finds  was  a  slab  of 
marble  about  an  inch  thick,  about  the  size  of  and 
perfectly  grooved  like  a  common  washboard. 

Those  who  went  to  Death  Valley  between  1849 
and  the  discovery  of  borax  included  all  elements 
of  society.  There  were  men  of  education  seeking 
scientific  information;  there  were  honest  pros- 
pectors with  no  reason  for  avoiding  the  haunts  of 
men;  and,  particularly  during  the  early  '70 's, 
there  were  some  about  whom  it  was  well  not  to 
be  too  inquisitive.  Undue  curiosity  in  such  mat- 
ters has  sometimes  been  an  infraction  of  the  so- 
cial code  that  met  with  serious,  if  not  fatal, 
objection.  It  was  said  that  the  region  contained 
deserters  from  Civil  War  armies,  draft  dodgers, 
and  men  who  ''had  no  use  for  sheriffs  nohow." 
It  is  certain  that  when  even  the  free-and-easv  at- 

280  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

mosphere  of  early  Nevada  and  Inyo  proved  too 
dangerous  for  certain  individuals  they  headed  for 
the  deep  desert.  There  was  a  resident  Indian 
population  of  reasonable  repute,  and  there  were 
Indian  renegades  as  well  as  whites. 

In  1870  one  "Bellerin'  "  Teck  appeared  upon 
the  scene.  ''Bellerin's"  characteristics  are  un- 
recorded, beyond  the  fact  that  he  was  a  ''bad 
man,"  as  were  many  who  headed  for  the  deep 
deserts  as  for  a  city  of  refuge.  Furnace  Creek 
was  the  site  he  chose  for  a  location,  and  there  he 
is  said  to  have  raised  "alfalfa,  barley  and 
quails."  One  of  his  visitors  was  a  Mormon 
named  Jackson,  who  traded  him  a  yoke  of  oxen 
in  exchange  for  part  of  the  ranch.  The  partner- 
ship was  of  brief  duration,  for  "Bellerin' "  and 
a  shotgun  ran  the  Saint  out  of  the  valley  within 
a  week.  Teck,  together  with  the  voice  from  which 
it  is  presumed  he  derived  his  soubriquet,  passes 
from  our  record. 

The  general  average  improved  considerably 
when  borax  operations  began,  and  forces  of  work- 
ingmen  were  taken  in.  About  forty  men  were 
employed  at  the  works  when  they  were  busiest. 
Later,  Greenwater  lived  its  feverish  hour  just 
over  the  summit  to  the  east  of  Death  Valley,  and 
Skidoo's  population  could  look  down  into  the 
noted  spot.  A  townsite,  christened  Midway,  was 
staked  out  on  the  Death  Valley  slope  of  the  Fu- 
nerals during  the  Greenwater  excitement,  but  it 
is  not  recorded  that  anyone,  even  the  stakers, 
lived  there. 

The  industrial  history  of  Death  Valley  began 
with  the  discovery  of  borax  in  1880. 


Some  time  in  those  lonely  years  one  Aaron 
Winters  and  his  frail  Spanish-American  wife, 
Kosie,  located  at  Ash  Meadows,  a  place  eastward 
across  the  Funerals  from  Death  Valley,  and  200 
miles  from  the  then  nearest  railroad  station  or 
settlement.  A  visitor  to  their  home  thus  described 

"Close  against  the  hill,  one  side  half  hewn  out  of  rock, 
stood  a  low  stone  building  with  tule  thatched  roof.  The 
single  room  was  about  15  feet  square.  In  front  was  a  canvas- 
covered  addition  about  the  same  size.  The  earth  served  as  a 
floor  for  both  rooms.  One  side  was  the  lady's  boudoir.  There 
was  a  window  with  a  deep  ledge,  in  the  center  of  which  was 
a  starch  box  supporting  a  small  looking-glass.  On  each  side 
of  the  mirror  hung  old  brushes,  badly  worn  bits  of  ribbon, 
and  some  other  fixings  for  the  hair.  Handy  by  was  a  lamp 
mat,  covered  with  bottles  of  magnolia  balm,  complexion 
powders  and  Florida  water— all,  alas,  empty,  but  still 
cherished  by  the  wife.  In  place  of  a  library  there  were  a 
number  of  copies  of  the  Police  Gazette.  The  sugar,  tea  and 
coffee  were  kept  under  the  bed.  The  water  of  the  spring  ran 
down  the  hill  and  formed  a  pool  in  front  of  the  house,  and 
here  a  number  of  ducks  and  chickens,  with  a  pig  and  a  big 
dog,  formed  a  happy  group,  a  group  that  wandered  about  in 
the  house  as  well  as  romped  beside  the  waters  of  the  spring," 

One  night  a  strolling  prospector  tarried  at  the 
Winters  home.  He  told  about  the  Nevada  borax 
deposits,  and  what  a  great  fortune  was  ready  for 
whoever  could  find  more  borax  beds.  Winters, 
careful  not  to  indicate  any  special  reason  for  seek- 
ing knowledge,  asked  many  questions  in  a  casual 
way.  Among  other  things  he  learned  that  sup- 
posed borax  could  be  tested  by  pouring  certain 
chemicals  over  it  and  firing  the  mixture.  If  it 
burned  green,  borax  was  present. 

282  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

When  the  guest  left,  Winters  made  haste  to 
get  chemicals  from  some  remote  supply  point.  He 
had  seen  stuff  in  Death  Valley  answering  the  gen- 
eral description  of  the  Nevada  borax.  Equipped 
with  testing  supplies,  Winters  and  his  wife  jour- 
neyed across  the  Funeral  summit  to  Furnace 
Creek  and  made  camp,  then  went  to  the  marsh 
and  got  samples  of  the  deposit.  At  night,  they 
mixed  their  powdered  samples,  as  they  had  been 
told,  poured  alcohol  over  it,  and  struck  the  match 
that  was  to  tell  the  story. 

How  would  it  burn  I  For  years  they  had  lived 
as  the  Piutes  of  the  desert.  Mesquite  beans  and 
chuckwalla  had  served  them  for  food  when  flour 
and  bacon  were  missing.  The  wife  had  felt  the 
utter  loneliness  of  their  situation  and  the  absence 
of  everything  dear  to  the  feminine  heart.  The 
color  of  the  flame  would  tell  them  whether  better 
things  were  ahead,  or  if  the  same  dreary  existence 
must  continue. 

Winters  held  a  match  to  the  mixture  with  a 
trembling  hand.  After  an  instant's  pause  he 
shouted  at  the  top  of  his  voice :  ' '  She  burns  green, 
Eosie!     We're  rich!" 

When  the  news  reached  San  Francisco  W.  T. 
Coleman  and  F.  M.  Smith  sent  agents  to  the  rude 
habitation  in  Ash  Meadows.  When  the  purpose 
of  the  visit  was  made  known,  Eosie  fished  out  a 
bag  of  pine  nuts,  and  as  the  party  munched  them 
around  the  campfire  the  bargain  was  made. 
Winters  and  Eosie  received  $20,000  for  their  find. 

Before  following  the  development  of  the  borax 
fields,  let  us  give  a  farewell  word  to  Winters.    On 


getting  his  money  he  bought  out  the  Pahrump 
ranch,  giving  $15,000  cash  and  $5,000  in  a 
mortgage.  For  a  little  while  life  held  new  charms 
for  the  couple  but  desert  hardships  had  sapped 
the  wife's  slender  vitality  and  she  died  ere  long. 

It  is  told  that  one  fall  Winters  had  to  go  to 
Belmont,  hundreds  of  miles  away,  to  pay  his 
taxes  and  do  other  business.  Those  were  the  days 
of  ''road  agents,"  and  he  prepared  for  emergen- 
cies. On  the  dash  of  his  buckboard  was  a  holster 
into  which  he  "put  a  worthless  pistol;  a  serviceable 
''navy"  was  concealed  under  the  cushion  on  the 
seat.  Nearing  Belmont,  two  men  invited  him  to 
dismount  and  turn  over  his  money.  Argument 
was  useless  and  he  had  to  comply.  One  of  the 
bandits  discovered  the  useless  pistol  in  its  holster, 
and  it  and  the  old  man's  demeanor  served  to 
throw  the  pair  completely  off  their  guard.  Winters 
took  a  favorable  opportunity  to  take  the  pistol 
from  the  seat  and  shoot  one  robber,  and  then  to 
compel  the  other  to  put  the  corpse  on  the  buck- 
board  and  go  into  Belmont  with  him.  Through 
Winters'  intercession  the  captured  man  was  re- 
leased and  taken  by  him  to  the  Pahrump  ranch  to 
do  honest  toil. 

The  earliest  borax  corporation  in  Death  Val- 
ley was  the  Eagle  company,  with  a  plant  near 
Bennett's  Wells.  The  Pacific  Coast  borax  com- 
pany, producing  ' '  Twenty  Mule  Team ' '  borax,  ex- 
tensively advertised,  took  the  lead  in  interest  and 
in  development,  and  conferred  on  F.  M.  Smith 
the  newspaper  title  of  "Borax  King."  Securing 
title  necessitated  sending  a  survey  party  to  the 

284  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

scene.  This  party,  headed  by  Engineer  McGilli- 
vray,  found  that  the  earlier  Grovernment  surveys 
were  absolutely  unreliable.  None  of  the  work  of 
staking  out  the  townships  had  actually  been  done, 
while  descriptions  were  so  inaccurate  that  tracts 
appearing  on  field  notes  as  level  were  really  8,000 
feet  above  sea  level  and  stood  at  a  forty-five- 
degree  angle. 

There  were  no  roads  worth  the  name,  yet  as 
every  item  of  material  had  to  be  hauled  great  dis- 
tances, across  a  little  known  desert,*  that  lack  had 
to  be  supplied.  A  road  more  than  160  miles  long 
was  made,  with  watering  places  more  than  fifty 
miles  apart  in  some  cases.  One  section  of  it 
crossed  the  valley  on  a  foundation  of  solid  salt. 
In  many  places  the  surface  is  only  a  crust  over 
underlying  mud;  in  others  there  are  solid  ridges. 
On  one  of  these  the  borax  people  laid  out  their 
route,  when  it  became  necessary  to  cross  from  the 
east  side,  on  which  the  works  were  built.  The 
marsh  was  eight  miles  wide  where  the  crossing 
was  made;  level,  as  a  whole,  but  so  pitted  and 
uneven  that  it  is  said  a  man  could  not  stand  flat- 
footed  in  a  single  spot  on  the  course.  The  grading 
tools  were  sledgehammers.  Day  after  day  the 
workmen  pounded  off  the  little  hillocks  and  finally 
completed  one  of  the  most  singular  stretches  of 
road  in  the  country. 

How  to  move  the  bulky  output  to  the  railroad 
was  a  problem  that  had  to  be  met.  It  was  solved 
by  the  construction  of  wagons  each  of  which  car- 
ried ten  tons  or  more.  The  beds  measured  sixteen 
feet  in  length,  six  in  depth  and  four  in  width.  They 


rested  on  solid  steel  axles  over  six  inches  in  diam- 
eter, and  allowing  for  a  six-foot  tread.  The  rear 
wheels  were  seven  feet  in  diameter,  and  were  cov- 
ered with  tires  an  inch  thick  and  eight  inches 
wide.    The  woodwork  was  in  proportion. 

As  the  ''twenty  mule  teams"  traveled  only 
about  twenty  miles  a  day,  and  water  holes  or 
springs  were  sometimes  fifty  miles  apart,  pro- 
vision had  to  be  made  for  hauling  water.  This 
was  done  by  building  tank  wagons,  which  hauled 
water  to  the  dry  camps  among  the  ten  stopping 
places  established  as  part  of  the  system.  Springs 
were  dug  out  and  improved,  and  water  pipes  laid. 

In  the  hottest  weather,  mid-day  travel  was  im- 
possible. Hauling  was  done  at  night,  or  the  road 
was  temporarily  abandoned.  Five  teams  were 
kept  on  the  road,  each  taking  twenty  days  for  the 
round  trip  to  and  from  the  railroad. 

One  of  the  details  of  recovering  borax  is  cook- 
ing the  crude  material  in  huge  vats.  Maintaining 
the  fires  strips  the  surrounding  country  of  the 
sagebrush,  which  is  most  convenient  for  fuel.  In 
Death  Valley  the  fuel  problem  was  of  rather  more 
seriousness  than  in  some  other  places.  The  drug, 
once  selling  by  the  ounce,  lowered  in  price  with 
the  increased  supply  provided  by  that  and  other 
discoveries.  Other  deposits  more  economical  in 
working  were  found  by  "Borax"  Smith's  and 
Coleman  interests.  All  these  things  contributed 
to  the  closing  down  of  those  works. 

Death  VaUey  has  yet  a  large  part  to  play  in 
affairs,  and  large  contributions  to  make  for  the 
world's  welfare.    Railroads  now  penetrate  almost 


286  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

to  the  sink  itself,  and  in  every  direction,  not  far 
from  its  borders,  industrial  development  is  push- 
ing forward.  There  are  probably  more  men  at 
work  in  that  general  region  than  ever  before  in 
its  history,  except  during  the  Greenwater  rush. 
Exploration  goes  on  and  new  finds  are  being 




STEAMER      BESSIE      BRADY — ADVENT      OF      CARSON      & 



Almost  as  early  as  the  establishment  of  a  per- 
manent population  in  Inyo  County  there  began  to 
be  talk  of  a  railroad  connection  to  the  southward. 
In  December,  1870,  a  company  was  incorporated 
to  build  a  road  from  Wilmington,  Los  Angeles 
County,  to  Wickenburg,  Arizona,  with  a  branch 
to  Owens  Valley.  This  line  was  to  be  of  30-inch 
gauge.  The  project  ended  as  have  many  later 
plans,  in  talk. 

With  the  growth  of  Cerro  Gordo,  the  people  of 
Los  Angeles  began  to  appreciate  that  Inyo  might 
become  a  valuable  factor  in  their  affairs.  Com- 
pletion of  the  railroad  betw^een  that  city  and  San 
Pedro,  in  November,  1869,  opened  a  route  which, 
though  distant,  was  the  one  utilized  for  Inyo 
freights  to  and  from  San  Francisco  for  several 
years.  Ores  and  supplies  were  hauled  by  teams 
between  Los  Angeles  and  Owens  Valley,  and  the 
volume  of  business  done  was  pleasing  to  the 
southern  town.     The  Los  Angeles  and  Indepen- 


288  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

dence  railroad  was  promoted  by  Senator  John  P. 
Jones,  ex-Governor  Downey  and  others.  A  fran- 
chise bill  was  introduced  in  the  Assembly  by 
James  E.  Parker,  of  Inyo,  and  in  the  spring  of 
1873  it  became  law.  It  granted  to  the  company 
the  right  to  collect  eight  cents  per  mile  for  fare 
and  ten  cents  per  ton  mile  for  freight.  At  least 
$20,000  was  to  be  expended  on  the  project  within 
twelve  months.  Subscription  books  were  opened 
in  Los  Angeles,  and  half  of  the  $2,200,000  capital 
stock  was  subscribed  at  once. 

The  chief  engineer  of  the  project  made  two 
preliminary  surveys.  One  was  via  San  Bernar- 
dino, and  was  the  more  favorable  of  the  two  in 
grades  and  expense.  Its  grading  was  figured  to 
cost  $321,400.  The  San  Fernando  route  was  the 
shorter.  Estimated  cost  of  a  standard  gauge  road, 
laid  with  forty-five-pound  iron,  complete,  was  put 
at  $11,400  a  mile;  three-foot  gauge,  thirty-five- 
pound  iron,  $10,000  a  mile;  strap  rail,  $5,400  a 
mile;  wooden  stringers,  no  rails,  $4,233  a  mile. 
Narrow-gauge  railroads  were  then  coming  into 
favor  and  that  suggestion  met  no  opposition.  As 
may  rightfully  be  guessed,  however,  the  idea  of 
strap-iron  rails  did  not  commend  itself,  particu- 
larly to  those  acquainted  with  the  fashion  in  which 
* '  snakeheads  "  on  early  railroads  sometimes  rose 
up  to  punch  through  car  bottoms.  The  wooden 
rail  idea  was  the  touch  that  forecasted  the  proj- 
ect's finish.  Eighteen  miles  of  real  track  was  laid 
from  Los  Angeles,  but  in  another  direction,  and 
in  time  became  part  of  the  Southern  Pacific  sys- 
tem.   The  company  continued  to  exist  and  to  make 


occasional  reports  of  investigations  for  several 
years  before  its  final  demise. 

The  limited  agriculture  of  Owens  Valley  fell 
short  of  ability  to  supply  demands,  and  in  conse- 
quence prices  were  high  for  all  such  produce.  This 
was  some  offset  for  the  enormous  freight  rates 
that  prevailed ;  for  while  every  importation  paid  a 
freight  tariff  of  five  to  seven  cents  a  pound,  the 
producer  who  contracted  his  barley  in  the  field  at 
four  cents  a  pound,  and  his  hay  sometimes  as  high 
as  $50  a  ton,  got  some  return  from  the  freighting 
company,  which  had  to  buy  produce  to  feed  the 
hundreds  of  animals  used  in  freighting. 

None  of  those  old-time  freight  bills  are  avail- 
able, but  an  indication  of  them  is  given  by  a  con- 
tract made  between  the  freighters  and  Camp 
Independence  authorities  for  delivery  of  freight 
from  San  Francisco  at  $5.96  per  one  hundred 
pounds  during  the  summer  months  and  $6.96  dur- 
ing the  winter. 

While  some  teaming  was  done  from  Wads- 
worth,  Nevada,  on  the  Central  Pacific,  the  bulk  of 
Inyo  shipments  came  and  went  the  southern  way. 
Ventura,  Santa  Barbara  and  Bakersfield  all  in- 
terested themselves  to  become  Inyo's  shipping 
point,  but  Los  Angeles  secured  most  of  the  trade. 
The  most  important  factor  in  pioneer  transporta- 
tion, and  in  fact  the  first  regular  and  dependable 
service,  was  the  Cerro  Gordo  freighting  company, 
organized  in  1873  primarily  to  transport  Cerro 
Gordo  bullion  and  supplies.  Nadeau,  its  chief 
organizer,  secured  a  three-year  contract  from 
Belshaw  &  Beaudry,  and  put  his  business  on  a 

290  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

thorough  schedule.  The  teaming  time  was  regu- 
lated almost  to  the  hour,  on  a  basis  of  twenty-one 
or  twenty-two  days  for  the  round  trip.  Stations, 
watering  places  and  camps  were  provided  as  the 
route  demanded.  Los  Angeles  papers  stated  that 
eighty  wagons  had  been  built  for  the  company; 
fifty-six  were  in  regular  service.  They  were  huge 
affairs;  while  there  is  no  available  definite  state- 
ment of  capacity,  each  would  hold  the  greater 
part  of  the  load  of  a  narrow-gauge  box  car. 

The  company  acquired  the  Bessie  Brady,  a  lit- 
tle steamer  that  had  been  launched  June  17,  1872, 
to  help  in  moving  bullion.  The  boat,  eighty-five 
feet  long  and  sixteen  feet  beam,  was  propellor- 
driven  by  a  twenty-horsepower  engine.  The  cost 
was  about  $10,000.  D.  H.  Ferguson  and  James 
Brady,  superintendent  of  the  smelting  company 
operating  at  Swansea,  were  the  owners.  She  was 
named  for  Brady's  little  daughter,  who  broke  the 
regulation  wine  bottle  over  the  bow  at  the  rather 
elaborate  ceremony  attending  the  vessel's  launch- 
ing. The  Bessie  Brady  appears  to  have  been  the 
first  vessel  for  commercial  purposes  on  western 
inland  lakes.  Making  a  round  trip  daily  from 
Swansea  (three  miles  north  of  the  present  town 
of  Keeler)  to  Cartago,  at  the  foot  of  the  lake,  and 
carrying  seventy  tons  of  freight,  the  steamer  per- 
formed service  cheaper  than  had  previously  been 
incurred  in  hauling  one-tenth  of  the  weight  be- 
tween the  same  terminals  in  five  days  by  teams. 
A  300-foot  wharf  was  built  at  Swansea,  on  a  site 
now  left  high  and  dry  by  the  lake's  recession. 
Bullion  was  the  bulk  of  the  freight  taken  south- 


ward,  and  supplies  for  the  mines  and  for  Owens 
Valley  formed  the  return  cargoes.  Valley  freights 
were  discharged  at  Ferguson's  Landing,  at  the 
northwestern  curve  of  the  lake.  The  steamer  bore 
an  honorable  share  in  the  business  of  the  time. 
She  was  burned  some  years  after  her  retirement 
from  service. 

Another  steamer,  the  Mollie  Stevens,  was 
launched  in  1877  for  transporting  lumber  and 
charcoal  across  the  lake  for  Cerro  Gordo.  Her 
engine  was  one  that  had  been  used  on  the  United 
States  vessel  Pensacola.  Her  part  in  general 
transportation  matters  was  small. 

The  Cerro  Gordo  freighting  company  aban- 
doned the  Inyo  field  in  1881.  In  that  year  the 
Carson  &  Colorado  railroad  was  completed  to 
Belleville,  Nevada,  and  that  point  became  the 
transshipping  headquarters  for  Inyo  freight.  It 
so  continued  until  the  road  was  built  across  the 
White  Mountains  to  Benton  and  on  into  Owens 
Valley  in  1883.  D.  0.  Mills  was  the  money  power 
behind  this  railroad.  In  the  belief  that  its  ship- 
ping advantages  would  stimulate  ore  shipments 
from  the  many  claims  along  the  White  Mountains, 
the  base  of  which  it  skirted  to  the  terminus  at 
Keeler,  the  management  resisted  all  inducements 
to  lay  its  track  through  the  more  settled  western 
side  of  Owens  Valley,  touching  the  established 
towns.  It  is  probable  that  anticipated  greater 
cost  of  maintenance  on  the  west  side. had  some 
effect  in  shaping  the  company's  determination. 

Candelaria  had  then  become  a  Nevada  mining 
camp  of  importance,  and  drew  on  Owens  Valley 

292  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

for  much  of  its  supplies.  Tlie  railroad  brought 
the  Candelaria  region  nearer,  but  whether  the  val- 
ley materially  gained  from  its  building,  so  far  as 
the  Candelaria  market  was  concerned,  is  de- 
batable. Previously  teams  had  found  occupation 
in  hauling  to  the  mining  camps,  and  Owens  Valley 
had  practically  a  monopoly  of  the  business  of  fur- 
nishing many  kinds  of  supplies.  The  railroad 
eliminated  the  teaming,  and  at  the  same  time  ef- 
fectively bridged  the  gap  between  that  mining 
camp  and  other  producing  regions. 

But  that  was  only  one  disadvantage,  insofar 
as  it  was  a  disadvantage,  against  which  were  to 
be  set  many  gains.  Nevada  capital  came  to  Inyo 
with  the  railroad,  and  forthwith  began  different 
steps  toward  developing  resources  that  had  been 
latent  or  wholly  unknown.  Among  them  may  be 
noted  the  opening  of  the  Inyo  marble  quarries, 
the  beginning  of  the  soda  reclamation  industry  at 
Owens  Lake,  and  contributions  to  land  develop- 
ment. It  would  be  superfluous  to  enumerate  the 
many  advantages  from  the  opening  of  railroad 
communication  to  a  section  as  isolated  as  this  had 
been  up  to  that  time. 

A  little  more  than  ten  years  later  the  Southern 
Pacific  took  over  the  Carson  &  Colorado.  The 
ever-present  hope  of  a  southern  railroad  was  en- 
couraged. Collis  P.  Huntington,  head  of  the 
Southern  Pacific,  decided  to  complete  the  line 
through  this  valley,  connecting  the  transconti- 
nental systems  to  the  south  and  the  north.  Before 
he  proceeded,  death  claimed  him,  and  his  succes- 
sor held  different  views  regarding  the  railroad. 



When  the  Los  Angeles  aqueduct  required  trans- 
portation of  huge  quantities  of  freight,  the  long- 
wanted  road  was  built,  and  its  last  spike  was 
driven  at  Owenyo  October  18, 1910.  Through  that 
connection,  Owens  Valley  and  all  of  Inyo  has 
been  brought  into  closer  connection  with  the  nat- 
ural marketplace,  Los  Angeles. 

Of  other  surveys,  of  the  organization  of  a  com- 
pany which  went  to  the  extent  of  securing  rights 
of  way  from  Bishop  south  through  the  valley,  and 
of  fruitless  endeavors  to  secure  the  location  of  a 
line  of  rails  nearer  to  the  valley  towns,  this  record 
need  not  speak.  In  this  same  connection,  a  com- 
pany was  organized  to  build  a  branch  to  connect 
Bishop  with  the  main  line  at  Laws.  It  obtained 
rights  of  way  and  graded  its  roadbed,  but  no  rails 
have  been  laid  on  it. 

One  of  the  most  important  events  in  the  his- 
tory of  Inyo  communication  will  be  the  completion 
of  El  Camino  Sierra,  that  portion  of  the  State 
highway  system  lying  east  of  the  Sierra  Nevada 
mountains.  That  work  moves  but  slowly,  but  the 
day  is  not  far  distant  when  fine  automobile  thor- 
oughfares shall  stretch  to  the  north  and  the  south 
to  connections  with  others  of  equal  merit.  So 
much  has  been  done,  when  this  is  written,  that  the 
individual  can  reach  Los  Angeles  to  the  south, 
Tahoe  or  Eeno  to  the  north,  or  Yosemite  Valley, 
via  the  magnificent  Tioga  route,  in  a  day's  travel, 
covering  distances  which  in  primitive  times  were 
journeys  of  three  or  four  times  as  long,  or  even 
more.  Fostered  by  the  invention  and  universal 
use  of  the  automobile,  the  good  road  movement 

294  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

has  grown  wondrously  everywhere,  and  it  might 
have  been  that  these  advantages  would  have  come 
to  Inyo  had  it  done  nothing  more  aggressive  than 
to  merely  wait.  It  is  wholly  fitting,  however,  to 
note  that  local  energy  has  played  a  part  in  ad- 
vancing the  cause  of  better  highways,  and  that 
out  of  Inyo  came  an  organization,  the  Inyo  Good 
Road  Club,  which  was  responsible  for  the  early 
favor  of  the  State  being  given  to  the  creation  of  a 
north  and  south  highway  east  of  the  Sierras. 



A  land-grabbing  scheme  of  the  first  magnitude 
threatened  to  dispossess  Owens  Valley  homestead- 
ers in  1873. 

California  was  then  having  a  ran  of  what  were 
termed  ''swamp  land  steals."  Congress  had 
passed  a  law  providing  for  the  survey  and  segre- 
gation of  swamp  and  overflowed  lands.  Each  State 
was  permitted  to  make  its  own  regulations  as  to 
the  disposition  of  such  lands  within  its  borders. 
Claimants  were  unrestricted  as  to  the  area  they 
could  obtain  on  a  suitable  showing  as  to  its  phys- 
ical condition.  California  was  a  field  ripe  for  har- 
vesting by  monopolists,  and  history  shows  that 
the  opportunity  was  not  neglected.  Spanish  land 
grants  had  provided  the  original  confusion,  and 
railroad  subsidies  and  unwise  legislation  made 
matters  worse.  Legislatures  and  ofiicers  were 
named  in  corporation  headquarters  in  many 
cases.  The  great  central  valleys  were  hardly  bet- 
ter than  stock  ranges.    Concentrated  wealth,  be- 


296  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

sides  being  in  close  touch  with  opportunities,  was 
able  to  lay  claim  to  great  domains  and  wait  for 
future  returns,  while  the  settlers  the  State  needed 
could  not  afford  to  court  starvation  on  the 
available  tracts.  An  example  of  how  the  situation 
worked  out  was  in  Kern  County,  where  the  hold- 
ings of  thirteen  persons  amounted  to  488,000 
acres,  and  seven  others  held  65,000  acres  or  more. 

The  United  States  Land  Office  was  moved  from 
Aurora,  Nevada,  to  Independence  in  June,  1873. 
Josiah  Earl  was  nominated  to  be  Register,  and 
P.  A.  Chalf  ant  was  named  as  Receiver.  The  latter 
appointment  was  unsought,  and  when  its  bene- 
ficiary learned  that  he  had  loeen  suggested  by  po- 
litical elements  with  which  he  was  not  in  accord 
he  promptly  resigned.  Earl  took  full  charge  of 
the  office,  though  his  appointment  had  not  been 
confirmed  by  the  Senate. 

In  July,  1873,  several  persons,  prominent 
among  them  Mr.  Earl  and  W.  S.  Powell,  a  Tulare 
County  surveyor,  filed  numerous  applications  for 
the  survey  and  purchase  of  all  or  parts  of  221 
sections  of  land  in  Owens  Valley,  extending  from 
Round  Valley  to  Owens  Lake,  and  involving 
133,000  acres.  Without  going  into  minor  details 
of  description,  suffice  it  to  state  that  practically 
every  township  in  the  valley  was  touched  in  some 
degree  or  as  a  whole  by  the  claim.  Applicants 
made  oath  that  the  lands  were  swamp  or  over- 
flowed, though  most  of  the  land  so  claimed  was 
covered  with  sagebrush,  and  much  of  it  would  not 
come  under  even  the  liberal  General  Land  Office 
ruling  that  ''land  too  wet  for  irrigation  at  the 


usual  seeding  time,  though  later  requiring  irriga- 
tion" should  be  subject  to  sale  as  swamp. 

Applicants  further  certified  that  lands  sought 
were  unoccupied,  while  the  fact  was  that 'on  at 
least  ninety-four  of  the  claimed  sections  homes 
had  been  established  and  the  beginnings  of  farm- 
ings made.  It  is  probable  that  the  occupants  ul- 
timately would  have  legally  withstood  any  at- 
tempts at  their  eviction;  at  the  time  they  would 
have  done  it  by  force  of  arms.  Yet  with  the 
examples  they  could  cite  in  which  aggregated 
wealth  had  overborne  justice,  some  of  them  were 
none  too  sanguine  on  that  point.  At  the  best,  the 
claims  promised  wearisome  legislation  and  ex- 
pense which  none  could  afford. 

Proceedings  had  been  so  well  masked  that 
three  months  elapsed  between  the  filing  of  the 
swamp  land  claims  and  knowledge  of  them  reach- 
ing the  people  of  the  valley.  The  Inyo  Indepen- 
dent, of  which  Mr.  Chalfant,  who  had  refused  to 
serve  as  Land  Office  Receiver,  was  editor,  ascer- 
tained and  revealed  the  facts.  Indignation  swept 
the  valley.  Public  meetings  were  held,  and  every 
citizen  who  had  any  outside  acquaintanceship  ex- 
erted himself  to  the  utmost  to  upset  the  sinister 
plan.  The  law  required  that  action  on  such  appli- 
cations should  be  suspended  for  six  months,  dur- 
ing which  time  protests  might  be  filed  with  the 
land  authorities.  Half  of  the  period  had  passed, 
but  three  months  still  remained  to  the  people.  The 
vigorous  campaign  made  caused  suspension  of  ac- 
tion pending  further  investigation,  and  two 
months  later,  in  March,  1874,  the  applications 
were  rejected. 

298  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

An  effort  was  made  to  secure  the  conviction  of 
Powell  on  a  charge  of  perjury  but  it  did  not  suc- 
ceed. A  petition  for  Earl's  removal  was  generally 
signed  throughout  the  valley.  His  appointment 
had  not  been  confirmed  by  the  Senate,  though  he 
continued  to  discharge  the  duties  of  the  Register- 
ship.  Senators  Sargent,  of  California,  and  Jones, 
of  Nevada,  Governor  Newton  Booth,  of  Califor- 
nia, and  others  of  less  prominence  took  an  active 
part  in  opposing  Earl's  confirmation.  The  matter 
had  not  come  to  a  Senate  vote  when  in  May,  1874, 
he  settled  it  by  resigning. 

Let  us  anticipate  the  passage  of  nearly  a  dec- 
ade to  refer  to  another  plan  for  monopolizing  a 
large  part  of  Owens  Valley,  though  in  the  later 
case  open  purchase  was  proposed.  There  would 
have  been,  naturally,  the  accompaniment  of  many 
sales  forced  by  circumstances.  This  was  in  1882, 
when  multimillionaires  W.  S.  Hobart  and  Alvinza 
Hayward  conceived  the  idea  of  securing  the  area 
noted  on  maps  as  Bishop  Creek  Valley  and  mak- 
ing it  into  a  stock  range.  James  Cross,  a  mining 
man  long  connected  with  Nevada  and  California 
affairs,  was  their  representative.  George  M.  Gill, 
afterward  Superior  Judge  of  this  county,  was 
their  attorney.  Theodore  T.  Cook,  a  Bishop  book- 
keeper, was  sent  to  Independence  to  list  the  as- 
sessed value  of  all  properties  in  the  area  desired, 
and  to  investigate  titles.  Hobart  and  Hayward 
planned  to  offer  twenty-five  per  cent  above  as- 
sessed values,  and  believed  that  while  many  resi- 
dents would  be  unwilling  to  sell  they  would  be 
virtually  compelled  to  if  a  sufficient  proportion  of 


their  neighbors  sold.  Cook's  investigations  of 
different  kinds  showed  that  the  probable  cost  of 
carrying  out  the  enterprise  would  be  $1,500,000. 
Whether  this  was  larger  than  the  projectors  were 
willing  to  stand,  or  whatever  the  reason,  no 
further  steps  were  taken. 

An  important  issue  of  the  early  70 's  was  the 
'* no-fence  law."  As  in  most  agricultural  com- 
munities, and  particularly  those  as  new  as  Owens 
Valley  then  was,  many  settlers  were  without 
means  with  which  to  fence  their  holdings.  Barbed 
wire,  now  in  common  use,  was  new  to  this  market, 
and  its  cost  was  twenty-five  cents  a  pound,  and 
rough  lumber  sold  at  $55  or  more  per  thousand 
feet.  While  the  ranchers  were  starting  their  crops, 
grazing  was  also  a  leading  industry.  An  item  of 
1873  said  that  there  were  200,000  head  of  cattle, 
horses  and  sheep  in  the  mountains  around  Mount 
Whitney,  and  many  of  them  wintered  in  Owens 
Valley.  The  driving  of  herds  through  the  valley 
to  their  summer  ranges  often  meant  the  destruc- 
tion of  growing  crops  along  the  route,  where  the 
tracts  were  usually  unfenced.  Considerable  agi- 
tation attended  the  passage  of  a  law  that  placed 
responsibility  for  destruction  of  crops  on  the 
stockmen,  whether  the  land  was  or  was  not  fenced. 
Nevertheless,  a  special  act  of  that  kind  was  passed 
for  Inyo  County,  and  a  few  other  counties  re- 
ceived the  same  consideration. 

Columns  of  newspaper  space  were  used  in  a 
controversy  over  the  identity  of  the  real  Mount 
Whitney.  Scientists  were  in  error  until  1873,  as 
the  uninformed  person  w^ould  be  now  if  while  in 

300  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

Lone  Pine,  nearest  to  the  peak,  he  were  asked  to 
point  it  out.  Clarence  King  climbed  ' ' old"  Mount 
Whitney  in  1871,  and  later  came  all  the  way  from 
New  York  to  make  another  ascent,  ascertaining 
that  he  had  been  mistaken.  John  Muir  and  others 
of  note  took  a  hand  in  the  debate.  The  first  ascent 
of  the  real  Mount  Whitney  was  made  August  18, 
1873,  by  A.  H.  Johnson,  J.  J.  Lucas  and  C.  D. 
Begole,  who  built  a  monument  on  it.  Prof.  Brewer 
had  discovered  and  named  the  mountain  in  1864, 
and  King  at  that  time  had  climbed  to  within  300 
feet  of  the  top.  Afterward  he  and  others  gave  the 
name  to  a  peak  several  miles  southeast,  believing 
it  to  be  the  one  he  had  ascended  from  the  west. 
*'01d"  Mount  Whitney  bore  the  name  for  three 
or  four  years,  while  there  were  attempts  to  give 
the  higher  summit  some  other  name.  *' Fisher- 
man's Peak,"  ''Dome  of  the  Continent,"  and 
''Dome  of  Inyo"  all  had  supporters.  An  ambitious 
politician  sought  to  secure  permanency  for  his 
name  by  introducing  a  bill  in  the  Legislature  offi- 
cially naming  the  mountain  "Fowler  Peak."  It 
was  finally  the  secondary  mountain  that  received 
a  different  name. 

The  out-of-the-wayness  of  Inyo  and  Mono 
Counties  in  those  days  was  illustrated  by  the  en- 
actment of  a  law  permitting,  in  these  counties,  the 
employment  of  public  school  teachers  regardless 
of  their  possessing  certificates  of  qualification. 
Being  sometimes  unable  to  secure  certificated 
teachers,  the  districts  were  permitted  to  enlist 
anyone  whom  they  believed  to  be  able  to  instruct 
the  rising  generation.  The  law  was  repealed  in 


In  more  modem  days,  ''the  big  earthquake" 
seems  to  mark  almost  the  beginning  of  history  in 
Inyo.  Such  an  idea  would  have  been  scorned  by 
the  Benevolent  Society  of  Owens  Valley  Pioneers, 
organized  in  March,  1874,  for  a  brief  career.  Only 
those  who  had  been  in  the  county  prior  to  the  last 
battle  at  Owens  Lake,  in  January,  1865,  were 
eligible  to  membership.  The  officers  were  Patrick 
Reddy,  president ;  J.  B.  Rowley  and  Thomas  Pass- 
more,  vice  presidents;  J.  J.  Moore,  secretary; 
R.  A.  Loomis,  corresponding  secretary;  T.  F.  A. 
Connelly,  treasurer;  John  A.  Lank,  D.  D.  Gunni- 
son and  John  Lubken,  directors.  Other  members 
included  John  Lentell,  V.  Gr.  Thompson,  James 
Shepherd,  John  Shepherd,  John  B.  White, 
"William  J.  Lake,  C.  D.  Begole,  Joseph  Fernbach, 
Thomas  W.  Hill,  John  C.  Willett,  Thomas  May, 
William  L.  Moore,  George  W.  Brady,  Paul  W. 
Bennett,  Jacob  Vagt,  John  R.  Hughes,  and  prob- 
ably several  other  ''taboose-eaters"  not  listed  in 
available  records. 

An  incident  of  1873  was  the  rejection  of  elec- 
tion returns  from  Round  Valley,  Bishop  Creek, 
Fish  Springs  and  Lone  Pine  precincts,  for  infor- 
malities too  gross  for  even  the  easy-going  authori- 
ties of  that  period.  What  difference,  if  any,  it 
made  in  the  result  of  the  county  election  is  not 
now  known,  nor  does  the  action  appear  to  have 
stirred  up  any  special  comment. 

A  different  sort  of  election  was  held  Septem- 
ber 18,  1874,  in  Bishop  Creek  and  Round  Valley. 
The  Independent  Order  of  Good  Templars  had 
lodges  in  Bishop  Creek,  Independence  and  Camp 


302  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

Independence — the  latter  composed  entirely  of 
soldiers — and  their  members  had  much  to  do  with 
solidifying  sentiment  against  the  absolutely  wide- 
open  conditions  then  general  in  Inyo  as  well  as 
elsewhere.  Local  option  was  submitted  to  vote  in 
the  precincts  named.  Bishop  Creek  voted  eighty- 
two  against  license,  twenty-six  for;  Eound  Valley 
was  nineteen  against,  six  for ;  totals,  one  hundred 
and  one  against  license ;  thirty-two  for.  This  pio- 
neer housecleaning  effort  was  in  vain ;  the  Super- 
visors discovered  that  the  election  should  have 
been  brought  in  the  Supervisor  district,  and  that 
the  Bishop  Supervisor  district  included  part  of 
Big  Pine  precinct,  where  no  election  was  held.  At 
that  election,  as  often  later,  the  ladies  took  an 
active  part  by  serving  a  feast  during  the  day  to 

March  1,  1875,  the  first  six-times-a-week  mail 
service  between  Owens  Valley  and  Aurora,  then 
the  nearest  communication,  was  begun.  Up  to 
then  the  settlers  had  been  fortunate  to  get  word 
from  the  outer  world,  considerably  delayed,  as 
often  as  three  times  a  week,  and  sometimes  no  bet- 
ter than  weekly. 

Through  all  that  period  county  finances  were 
in  deplorable  condition,  scrip  selling  as  low  as 
forty  cents  on  the  dollar.  Its  fluctuations  offered 
a  field  for  some  small  speculation,  and  citizens 
who  could  spare  the  money  made  its  buying  prof- 
itable. The  county  did  not  profit  much  from  such 
conditions.  An  example  was  a  bridge  contract  on 
which  the  bidder's  offer  was  to  do  the  work  for 
$2,000  if  paid  in  gold  or  $4,866.66  if  paid  in  script. 


Orders  for  abandonment  of  Camp  Indepen- 
dence were  received  by  Captain  Alexander  B. 
MacGowan  on  July  9, 1877,  and  before  sunrise  the 
following  morning,  the  garrison,  Company  D,  12th 
Infantry,  began  the  long  march  to  the  railroad 
south,  later  to  go  to  the  front  as  part  of  General 
Miles'  force  in  the  Nez  Perce  war  in  Idaho. 

Departure  of  the  soldiers  was  witnessed  with 
deep  regret.  Citizens  felt  that  the  Indian  situa- 
tion was  not  wholly  free  from  possibilities  of 
trouble.  Reports  occasionally  came  in  of  friction 
in  the  desert  regions.  To  the  credit  of  Inyo  In- 
dians be  it  said  that  as  a  rule  it  developed  either 
that  the  reports  were  baseless,  that  white  men 
were  chiefly  at  fault  in  the  matter,  or  that  the 
troublemakers  were  renegades,  outlawed  by  Pi- 
utes  as  well  as  whites. 

A  movement  was  started  at  Bishop  for  organ- 
izing a  company  of  the  State  National  Guard,  as 
a  precautionary  measure.  It  was  found  to  be 
barred  by  reason  of  an  already  full  list  of  author- 
ized companies.  Other  efforts  of  the  same  kind 
were  made  in  after  years,  with  equal  lack  of  State 

D  Company  had  been  at  the  post  four  years. 
In  the  beginning  it  was  made  up  of  a  hard  lot  of 
individuals.  On  two  different  occasions  they  had 
clashes  with  citizens.  One  of  these  occurred  on 
the  night  of  December  31,  1873.  A  party  of  sol- 
diers went  into  Independence,  between  two  and 
three  miles  from  the  barracks,  and  made  a  general 
round  of  serenading.  During  the  evening  their 
potations    at  the   town's   bars   were   numerous. 

304  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

Toward  midnight  they  approached  a  hall  wherein 
a  dance  was  in  progress.  The  doorkeeper  refused 
to  admit  them,  on  account  of  their  intoxicated  con- 
dition. They  insisted,  and  the  first  comer  was 
''sent  to  grass"  by  the  doorkeeper's  fist.  A  gen- 
eral and  wholesale  melee  ensued.  Fence  pickets 
were  the  worst  weapons  used,  and  many  bruises 
were  inflicted  before  the  affair  ended. 

Those  men  were  but  part  of  the  company,  how- 
ever. The  more  sober  element  soon  afterward  or- 
ganized a  lodge  of  Good  Templars  at  the  post,  and 
pridefully  sustained  it  during  their  stay.  The 
toughs  deserted  or  finished  their  time,  and  re- 
placements improved  the  general  average.  When 
the  post  was  abandoned  there  were  many  civilian 
friends  to  bid  the  departing  soldiers  farewell. 
How  the  company  improved  was  shown  by  a 
guardhouse  average  of  one  man  incarcerated  each 
day  during  1873,  one  each  four  days  in  1874,  one 
each  thirty  days  in  1875. 

It  was  a  telegraph  operator  in  the  company 
who  promoted  the  first  telegraph  line  built  in  the 
county,  in  the  fall  of  1876.  It  ran  between  Inde- 
pendence and  the  fort.  Its  construction  tried  the 
ingenuity  of  the  builders;  its  wire  ranged  from 
the  finest  copper  to  heavy  iron;  its  insulators 
were  mostly  bottle  necks — of  which  there  was  no 
scarcity.  Only  the  instruments  and  batteries 
would  have  been  approved  on  a  regular  system, 
but  the  line  worked. 

Early  history  and  occupation  of  the  post  have 
been  detailed  in  the  chapters  of  Indian  War  his- 
tory, up  to  the  arrival  of  Company  C,  Nevada  Vol- 


unteers,  in  April,  1865.  The  valley  had  been  with- 
out military  protection  during  the  latter  part  of 
the  Indian  troubles,  and  it  was  the  citizens,  not 
the  soldiers,  who  inflicted  final  punishment  on  the 
natives.  Nevertheless  the  army  uniform  always 
excited  lively  interest  among  the  Piutes.  The  ar- 
rival of  a  new  body  of  troops  at  Camp  Indepen- 
dence or  a  march  from  there  by  any  considerable 
detachment  invariably  caused  anxious  apprehen- 
sion and  inquiry  by  Indian  residents. 

From  the  spring  of  1865  to  the  final  abandon- 
ment the  place  was  always  garrisoned.  When  the 
volunteers  were  mustered  out,  Col.  John  D.  Dev- 
ens'  command  of  one  company  of  cavalry  and  one 
of  infantry  succeeded  them.  Next  came  Captain 
(then  Brevet-Major)  Harry  C.  Egbert,  with  Com- 
pany B,  12th  Infantry.  Egbert  was  in  command 
when  the  fort's  buildings  were  tumbled  over  by 
the  earthquake  in  1872.  When  the  rebuilt  bar- 
racks were  completed  the  soldiers  gave  a  grand 
open-house  entertainment  for  the  whole  country- 
side. Among  the  decorations  on  this  occasion 
were  shields  bearing  the  names  of  Civil  War  bat- 
tles in  which  the  company,  including  many  of  the 
veterans  who  were  still  under  its  colors,  had  par- 
ticipated. As  the  list  included  Gaines '  Mill,  Cedar 
Mountain,  Antietam,  Fredericksburg,  Chancel- 
lorsville,  Gettysburg,  Wilderness,  Petersburg, 
Malvern  Hill,  Cold  Harbor,  Five  Forks,  and 
others  of  less  historic  prominence,  and  the  com- 
pany was  also  at  Appomattox  at  the  closing  scene, 
it  will  be  seen  that  B  Company  had  a  record  in 
which  its  pride  was  justified. 

306  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

The  last  of  this  garrison,  led  by  Lieut.  Dove, 
just  promoted  to  a  captaincy,  left  for  San  Diego 
June  30,  1873,  and  thereafter  found  occupation 
protecting  Arizona  telegraph  lines  from  maraud- 
ing Apaches.  Egbert,  who  was  a  lawyer  of  ability, 
resigned  his  commission,  for  a  time  engaged  in 
practice  as  a  partner  of  Patrick  Reddy  at  Inde- 
pendence, and  finally  went  to  New  York.  On  the 
outbreak  of  the  Spanish  War  he  tendered  his  ser- 
vices to  the  Government,  served  through  the  Cu- 
ban campaign,  and  was  sent  to  the  Philippines 
wearing  the  two  stars  of  a  major  general.  He  was 
killed  while  leading  a  charge  against  the  enemy.  To 
his  widow,  doubly  stricken  by  this  and  the  insanity 
of  her  son  soon  after  he  had  received  an  army  com- 
mission. Congress  voted  a  general's  pension.  Pio- 
neer Inyoites  felt  a  special  and  personal  interest 
in  one  who  had  taken  much  part  in  local  affairs, 
and  who  was  designated  by  an  appreciative  friend 
as  ' '  the  gentle,  brave  and  gallant  Harry  Egbert. ' ' 

MacGowan's  command  arrived  five  days  be- 
fore the  departure  of  Dove  and  his  company.  Hav- 
ing no  other  opportunity  for  activity,  MacGowan 
was  ever  ready  to  go  a  bit  beyond  the  strictest 
construction  of  regulations  in  making  his  men  a 
force  for  law  and  order.  At  one  time  his  company 
was  marched  into  Independence  to  protect  the 
county  jail  against  an  expected  lynching  attack, 
which,  however,  did  not  materialize.  At  another, 
he  took  the  field  in  pursuit  of  bandit  Vasquez. 
A  detachment  was  once  sent  to  Round  Valley  as 
an  object  lesson  to  insolent  Indians.  Many  scouts 
were  made,  and  many  tables  of  distance  measure- 
ments were  compiled  by  the  company. 


On  abandonment  of  the  post,  settlers  in  the 
vicinity  were  permitted  to  obtain  government  title 
to  the  farms  on  which  their  homes  had  b6en  made 
for  many  years.  Previously,  bills  had  been  in- 
troduced in  Congress  at  one  time  or  another  to 
meet  the  case,  but  no  relief  had  been  granted. 

A  movement  was  also  inaugurated  to  make 
the  well  planted  and  beautiful  post  grounds  the 
site  of  a  county  high  school.  It  would  be  flattery 
to  the  California  high  school  system  of  that  day 
to  call  it  crude ;  it  was  practically  non-existent,  ex- 
cept as  each  community  might  devise  ways  and 
means  of  its  own.  It  was  proposed  that  the  Gov- 
ernment be  asked  to  deed  the  Camp  Independence 
grounds  to  Inyo  County,  for  the  purpose  men- 
tioned, and  a  bill  to  that  effect  was  introduced  in 
the  House  of  Representatives.  Introducing  bills 
in  Congress  is  one  of  the  easiest  things  that  many 
Representatives  do ;  the  proposition  never  got  be- 
yond that  stage,  and  was  soon  forgotten. 









In  the  spring  of  1885  a  stock  show  was  given 
by  William  Rowan,  at  Bishop.  This  led  to  the 
formation  of  an  association  for  giving  county 
fairs,  the  first  of  which  was  a  one-day  display  on 
October  1,  1885.  It  was  so  successful  that  the 
county's  representative  in  the  State  Assembly, 
A.  J.  Gould,  was  asked  to  further  a  bill  to  include 
the  counties  of  Alpine,  Mono  and  Inyo  in  a  dis- 
trict to  receive  State  aid  for  agricultural  fair  pur- 
poses. The  bill  became  law,  and  an  appropriation 
was  made  for  its  benefit.  The  Bishop  organiza- 
tion was  ready  for  business,  having  incorporated 
and  bought  grounds.  While  its  recommendations 
for  the  fair  directorate  were  being  considered,  a 
representative  from  Independence  secured  the 
Governor's  appointments  of  a  board  favorable  to 
locating  the  site  of  the  fair  at  that  place.  The 
Eastern  Slope  Land  and  Stock  Association,  as  the 
Bishop  organization  was  called,  maintained  its 



stand,  while  the  Eighteenth  District  Fair  Associa- 
tion was  also  active.  For  several  years  rival  fairs 
were  maintained.  Finally  an  adjustment  was 
made,  and  thereafter  fairs  were  alternated  be- 
tween Bishop,  Independence  and  Big  Pine.  When 
State  aid  was  no  longer  given  the  district  organ- 
ization languished.  Bishop  continued  to  hold  fairs 
on  a  local  subscription  basis,  a  custom  which,  un- 
der one  name  or  another,  is  still  maintained. 

The  Nevada  Mission  Conference  of  1885  was 
held  in  Bishop,  the  first  of  a  number  of  such  gath- 
erings convening  there  or  at  Big  Pine.  Its  prin- 
cipal local  effect  came  from  the  adoption  of  a  reso- 
lution declaring  for  the  establishment  in  Bishop 
of  a  school  of  higher  education.  The  institution 
was  erected  on  a  subscription  basis,  and  com- 
pleted after  a  term  of  the  school,  named  the  Inyo 
Academy,  had  been  held  in  the  Methodist  Church. 
The  cornerstone  was  laid  September  30,  1886,  and 
the  building,  at  that  time  ''the  largest  and  finest 
in  the  State  east  of  the  Sierras,"  was  occupied 
the  following  year.  Several  classes  graduated 
under  instruction  of  the  teachers,  who  were  paid 
by  the  church.  The  control  of  the  school  was  in 
the  hands  of  a  board  of  local  citizens,  and  it  was 
never  a  denominational  institution  in  any  way. 
However,  the  fact  of  the  church's  fostering  care 
had  caused  some  of  the  original  subscribers  to 
repudiate  their  subscriptions,  resulting  in  litiga- 
tion; and  the  same  objection  was  used  to  hold  the 
attendance  at  an  unprofitable  level.  The  Academy 
ran  at  a  financial  loss  until  the  Conference, 
unable  longer  to  carry  it  and  to  care  for  the  debt 

310  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

which  hung  over  it,  abandoned  the  effort.  It  was 
the  beginning  of  higher  education  on  this  slope  of 
the  mountains.  Its  local  supporters,  principally, 
were  in  the  lead  of  advocates  of  something  better 
for  the  young  people ;  and  when  it  became  obvious 
that  the  Academy  could  not  continue,  a  plan  for 
a  high  school  under  State  laws  was  launched.  At 
an  election  held  February  25,  1899,  it  was  de- 
feated, 145  to  121.  The  matter  rested  thus  for 
two  years,  during  which  there  was  further  hope 
of  the  Academy  reviving.  This  proving  vain,  in 
September,  1901,  a  public  meeting  was  called  and 
nearly  $3,000  was  subscribed  as  a  guarantee  fund 
for  the  payment  of  a  high  school  teacher.  School 
was  opened  in  a  room  of  the  Bishop  grammar 
school,  and  received  a  good  attendance.  A  new 
campaign  was  begun,  and  March  29,  1902,  the 
Bishop  union  high  school  was  established  by  a 
vote  of  176  to  72.  Having  set  down  the  real  be- 
ginnings of  a  higher  education  in  this  region, 
there  is  small  need  to  detail  the  subsequent  pur- 
chase of  the  Academy  property  and  the  growth 
of  the  school.  An  effort  was  made,  at  one  time, 
to  vote  bonds  for  a  $40,000  building;  the  school's 
backers  were  disappointed  at  its  defeat,  which,  in 
view  of  the  almost  metropolitan  plant  which  has 
since  become  necessary,  they  now  accept  as  a 
providential  result.  A  $200,000  structure  is  now 
in  use. 

Big  Pine  was  but  little  later  in  establishing  a 
high  school,  and  Independence  and  Lone  Pine  did 
likewise.  Each  district  has  shown  its  complete 
sincerity  by  voting  bonds   sufficient   to   provide 


housing  and  other  facilities  in  accordance  with 
the  advanced  development  of  educational  ideas. 
This  is  true  of  grammar  schools  as  of  high. 

Another  step  in  accordance  with  modern  find- 
ings was  the  consolidation  of  Warm  Springs  and 
Sunland  districts  with  Bishop,  at  an  election  June 
14,  1921.  It  is  probable  that  the  same  advanced 
move  will  ere  long  be  made  in  other  districts  of 
Owens  Valley. 

The  beginning  of  Owens  Valley's  systematic 
development  as  a  dairy  region  dates  from  1892, 
when  the  Inyo  Creamery  was  incorporated  and  a 
plant  constructed  at  Bishop.  Of  itself,  the  ven- 
ture was  not  a  success,  due  to  mistakes  of  man- 
agement rather  than  to  any  other  cause;  it  was 
immediately  followed,  however,  by  installation  of 
private  plants  of  the  same  kind,  which  succeeded. 
Ultimately  the  business  passed  to  a  re-incorpo- 
rated company,  which  under  skillful  management 
has  won  an  established  and  leading  place  among 
Inyo  enterprises. 

Fire  broke  out  in  a  vacant  building  in  Inde- 
pendence on  the  afternoon  of  Wednesday,  June 
30, 1886.  No  fire-fighting  apparatus  was  available, 
and  the  flames  ran  unchecked  until  thirty-eight 
buildings  in  the  central  part  of  the  county  seat 
had  been  swept  away.  Practically  all  business  es- 
tablishments, some  residences  and  the  county 
buildings  were  lost.  The  total  damage  was  esti- 
mated at  $160,000. 

Though  the  courthouse  was  burned,  nearly  all 
county  records  were  saved  through  the  presence 
of  mind  and  the  energy  of  two  ladies,  Mrs.  R.  L. 

312  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

Peeler  and  Mrs.  J.  S.  McGee,  who  carried  books 
and  documents  to  safety  during  the  hours  that 
the  men  of  the  place  were  doing  what  they  could 
to  end  the  damage. 

County  officers  soon  established  themselves  in 
whatever  locations  were  available,  and  county  af- 
fairs went  on  without  interruption. 

An  effort  to  move  the  county  seat  to  Bishop 
was  started.  Petitions  for  an  election  were 
strongly  signed  and  presented  to  the  Board  of 
Supervisors.  District  Attorney  Laird  advised 
the  Board  that  though  the  headings  of  the  differ- 
ent signed  sheets  of  paper  were  identical,  the  fact 
that  all  signatures  were  not  on  one  and  the  same 
sheet  would  prevent  the  whole  from  being  consid- 
ered as  ^'a  petition"  within  the  meaning  of  the 
law.  As  no  single  sheet  contained  anything  like 
enough  names  to  justify  an  election.  Supervisors 
refused  the  petitions,  and  proceedings  for  rebuild- 
ing at  Independence  were  begun.  On  October  7th 
a  contract  was  let  to  M.  E.  Gilmore  for  erecting 
the  new  structure  for  $11,458,  a  price  afterward 
reduced,  through  changes,  to  $10,000.  The  build- 
ing was  accepted  February  10,  1887. 

County  seat  removal  had  come  up  and  had 
been  disposed  of  before,  usually  on  some  question 
of  signatures  on  petitions.  Later,  a  campaign  of 
that  kind  was  begun  by  people  of  Big  Pine,  and 
submitted  to  vote  at  the  general  election  in  1908. 
It  was  lost  by  a  vote  of  670  against  to  456  for. 

From  the  coming  of  the  white  man,  one  of  the 
chief  sources  of  trouble  with  the  Piutes  was  their 
securing  liquor.    In  two  instances  at  Bishop,  this 


evil  became  so  pronounced  and  so  utterly  beyond 
the  law's  control  that  citizens   organized  inde- 
pendently to  cope  with  the  condition.    One  organi- 
zation known  as  the  "C.  P.  S." — Committee  of 
Public  Safety — destroyed  liquor  stocks  found  in 
houses  occupied  by  Chinese,  and  briefly  improved 
the  situation.    The  most  thorough  step  in  this  di- 
rection, however,  was  by  an  organization  known 
as  the  "145."    This  body  included  nearly  all  the 
prominent  citizens  of  Bishop.     Its  name  was  in 
imitation  of  the  famous  ''601"  of  Virginia  City 
fame;  as  a  matter  of  fact,  the  assumed  numerals 
more  than  doubled  the  actual  number  of  men  in 
the  movement.    It  held  meetings  and  deliberated 
over  the  methods  to  pursue  in  getting  rid  of  of- 
fenders.    The  worst  of  these  was  a  man  named 
Coronado,  who  held  forth  in  a  cabin  arranged  so 
that  he  passed  out  his  goods  to  buyers  without 
being  seen,  and  never  when  more  than  one  was 
present.     He  maintained  an  effective  watch  by 
means  of  a  flock  of  dogs,  whose  alarm  gave  warn- 
ings when  necessary.    Law  officers  made  repeated 
attempts  to  catch  him;  but  while  moral  certainty 
could  be  confirmed,  the  exacting  requirements  of 
legal  proof  were  not  available.      Coronado  was 
notified  by  the  spokesman  of  the  145  that  he  was 
to  wind  up  his  affairs  and  leave.    He  asked  for 
and  was  given  more  time.    Finally  patience  was 
exhausted,  and  the  145  resolved  on  starting  him. 
Late  one  night  in  midsummer  of  1901  he  was  play- 
ing cards  in  the  saloon  where  he  bought  his  liquor 
stock,  and  was  called  to  the  door  by  a  committee- 
man who  spoke  Spanish.    He  was  seized  by  a  com- 

314  THE    STOEY    OF    IjSTYO 

petent  force,  and  a  pistol  that  he  drew  was  pre- 
vented from  doing  damage  by  a  145  thumb  placed 
beneath  its  hammer.  He  was  taken  to  his  home, 
his  horse  hitched  to  a  buggy  in  which  Coronado 
was  placed  and  with  a  guard  he  started  off 
through  the  clear  starlit  night.  He  went  on  across 
the  Sierras  and  did  not  return.  Six  other  culprits 
left  on  notice.  No  drop  of  blood  was  shed  by  the 
145,  and  its  action  materially  lessened  the  Indian 
whisky  traffic  for  a  long  time  thereafter. 

This  "Land  of  Little  Rain,"  as  styled  by  a 
former  Inyoite,  Mary  Austin,  expands  and  de- 
velops agriculturally  as  irrigation  facilities  are 
extended  or  better  utilized.  Earliest  settlers  found 
ample  room  for  home-making  along  natural  water- 
courses. A  decade  passed  before  pioneer  farmers 
seriously  took  up  the  irrigation  of  tracts  not  thus 
easily  watered.  A  ditch  from  Fish  Slough  to 
reach  lands  above  Laws  was  one  of  the  earliest 
of  projected  and  completed  smaller  private  enter- 
prises. The  McNally  Ditch,  serving  the  Laws 
vicinity,  the  Bishop  Creek  Ditch,  for  tracts  be- 
tween Bishop  and  Owens  River,  the  Owens  River 
and  Big  Pine  Canal,  for  Big  Pine  lands,  and  a 
ditch  for  irrigation  in  the  vicinity  of  Lone  Pine 
were  all  projected  during  1877  and  1878.  The 
first  and  second  were  slowly  but  steadily  pushed 
to  completion  by  the  labor  of  the  projectors.  The 
Big  Pine  enterprise,  after  the  expenditure  of  con- 
siderable effort,  remained  idle  until  in  1902  it 
was  reinvigorated  and  finished  the  following  year. 
That  for  Lone  Pine  was  never  built.  Various  other 
enterprises,  to  the  number  of  about  twenty,  have 


been  begun  since  those  initial  undertakings.  A 
map  of  the  whole  array  shows  the  Owens  River 
Canal,  begun  in  1887  and  covering  the  western  side 
of  northern  Owens  Valley,  and  the  Inyo  Canal, 
starting  the  same  year  and  irrigating  tracts  east 
of  the  river  and  nearly  as  far  south  as  Lone  Pine, 
as  the  most  widely  separated  co-operative  enter- 
prises. The  Inyo  Canal,  however,  was  obliterated 
by  the  Los  Angeles  purchase  of  the  lands  which  it 
was  built  to  irrigate,  that  purchase  closing  out 
a  colonization  enterprise  launched  in  1884  and 
1885,  under  the  name  of  the  AVilliam  Penn  Colony, 
to  develop  lands  in  the  vicinity  of  Owenyo. 

There  were  many  lean  years  in  Owens  Valley. 
Decline  of  Cerro  Gordo,  Panamint  and  Darwin, 
and  gradual  slackening  of  other  mining  campa 
within  the  territory  accessible  by  teaming  from 
the  valley  had  brought  a  stagnation  not  offset  in 
any  other  way.  The  building  of  the  railroad  in 
1883  had  not  greatly  bettered  the  situation,  for 
only  a  few  varieties  of  products  could  profitably 
withstand  its  long  and  time-consuming  service  and 
high  freight  charges.  A  further  depressing  fac- 
tor came  in  the  rapid  fall  of  the  price  of  silver, 
causing  the  suspension  of  mining  properties 
which  had  been  operated  on  a  small  scale. 

A  new  era  in  Inyo  began  with  the  growth  of  the 
newer  mining  camps  of  southwestern  Nevada.  In 
the  summer  of  1900  Mr.  and  Mrs.  James  L.  Butler 
discovered  the  croppings  of  the  Mizpah  mine,  the 
beginning  of  Tonopah.  Goldfield's  discovery  and 
growth  soon  followed.  The  rapid  upbuilding  of 
those  large  camps  gave  a  fresh  impetus  to  mining 

316  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

throughout  the  region,  an  advance  in  which  Inyo 
districts  shared.  Far  more  important  in  effect 
was  the  creation  of  nearby  cash  markets  which 
demanded  the  best  efforts  of  the  agricultural  lands 
of  Owens  Valley. 

In  April,  1902,  citizens  of  Bishop  organized  the 
Bishop  Light  and  Power  Company  to  supply  local 
needs — the  county's  first  electric  enterprise.  Its 
plant,  starting  in  September  of  that  year,  was  suc- 
cessfully managed  until  absorbed  by  the  Nevada- 
California  Power  Company.  This  latter  concern, 
backed  by  Colorado  capital,  saw  in  the  growth  of 
Tonopah  and  Goldfield  a  market  for  power,  and 
in  the  tumbling  torrents  of  Sierra  streams  an  op- 
portunity for  its  cheap  production.  Power  loca- 
tions on  Bishop  Creek  had  long  been  held  by  dif- 
ferent locators,  who  had  merely  renewed  their 
filings  from  time  to  time.  Those  sites  were  se- 
cured by  the  new  enterprises.  Generating  plants 
were  built,  and  transmission  lines  extended,  first 
into  Nevada,  then  southerly  almost  to  the  Mexican 
line,  until  now  the  longest  power  lines  in  the  world 
carry  the  energy  of  Bishop  Creek  from  Mono 
County  on  the  north  into  Arizona  and  Imperial 
Valley  on  the  south. 

In  addition  to  buying  out  the  locally  organized 
power  company,  the  Nevada-California  Power 
Company  acquired  the  Hillside  Water  Company 
holdings.  The  latter  concern  had  acquired  storage 
rights  on  the  creek's  headwaters,  of  value  to  the 
electric  plants.  More  or  less  of  friction  over 
water  matters  developed;  on  the  one  side,  the 
farmers  who  had  used  Bishop  Creek  water  for 


decades ;  on  the  other,  first  the  Hillside  Company, 
then  its  successors,  the  power  interests.  Tempo- 
rary adjustments  tided  matters  over  until,  unable 
to  secure  water  enough  for  their  crops,  a  delega- 
tion went  to  South  Lake,  or  Hillside  Reservoir 
as  termed  by  the  company,  and  on  June  11,  1919, 
raised  the  gates  sufficiently  to  release  a  reasonable 
flow.  No  property  was  damaged  in  the  proceed- 
ing. This  led  to  an  effort  on  the  company's  part 
to  enjoin  the  water  users  from  interference  with 
the  storage.  By  agreement,  the  whole  controversy 
was  referred  to  A.  E.  Chandler,  former  State  Wa- 
ter Commissioner,  both  sides  agreeing  to  accept 
his  decree  as  final.  After  an  extensive  hearing,  in 
which  practically  every  water  user  supplied  from 
Bishop  Creek  was  called  to  testify,  arbitrator 
Chandler  reached  findings  substantially  sustain- 
ing every  contention  of  the  farmers.  When  this 
is  written  the  final  decree  has  not  been  made,  but 
from  the  findings  it  will  clearly  define  and  settle 
the  issues  in  dispute. 

The  progressive  spirit  of  the  people  of  Bishop, 
who  had  bettered  their  condition  as  circumstances 
permitted,  brought  about  the  incorporation  of  the 
place  as  a  municipality.  One  of  the  chief  pur- 
poses in  view  was  the  creation  of  a  better  water 
supply  for  domestic  use  and  fire  protection.  A 
census  was  taken  by  the  Women's  Improvement 
Club  to  determine  that  the  requisite  population 
of  500  persons  lived  within  the  boundaries  set. 
The  census-takers  managed  to  list  540.  An  elec- 
tion was  held,  and  incorporation  of  the  little  city 
was  voted  sixty-three  to  thirty-six,  April  24, 1903. 


318  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

W.  W.  Watterson,  F.  K.  Andrews,  George  A. 
Clarke,  G.  L.  Albright  and  J.  C.  Underwood  were 
chosen  as  the  first  Trustees,  with  W.  W.  Yandell 
as  Clerk,  D.  W.  Pitman  Marshal,  and  M.  Q.  Wat- 
terson Treasurer.  Proceeding  with  the  utmost 
care,  the  board  did  not  complete  its  arrangements 
for  a  water  bond  election  until  the  following  sum- 
mer. On  September  6,  1904,  bonds  to  the  amount 
of  $44,000  were  voted  for  the  construction  of 
water  and  sewer  systems,  the  three  propositions 
receiving  from  119  to  125  affirmative  votes  to 
6  to  8  negatives.  Many  other  advances  have 
come  since — further  improvements,  the  creation 
of  first  a  local  telephone  system,  then  its  exten- 
sion through  the  valley,  then  connection  with  the 
outside  world;  the  establishment,  March,  1902,  of 
the  Inyo  County  Bank,  as  the  first  in  Owens  Val- 
ley, and  subsequently  of  others;  and  different 
items  each  of  importance,  but  only  incidental  as 
compared  to  the  first  daring  step  of  assuming 
municipal  responsibilities  and  heavy  outlays  by 
a  handful  of  people. 

How  the  people  of  the  northern  part  of  the 
county  had  voted  to  close  the  saloons,  under  local 
option  laws,  in  1874,  has  already  been  told.  It 
was  not  until  1896  that  another  attempt  of  the 
kind  was  made  through  election,  the  entire  county 
being  included  in  the  territory  which  it  was  pro- 
posed to  make  ' '  dry. ' '  The  ordinance  lost  by  only 
56  votes,  but  the  matter  was  again  allowed  to  rest, 
until  the  latter  part  of  1909.  As  a  result  of  the 
later  agitation,  in  which  all  the  older  communities 
of  the  county  had  a  part,  the  County  Supervisors 


agreed  that  they  would  be  governed,  in  the  matter 
of  adopting  a  prohibitory  ordinance,  by  the  action 
taken  by  the  town  of  Bishop.  ''Wet  or  dry"  was 
the  issue  in  the  municipal  election  in  April,  1910, 
and  the  dry  candidates  won  by  a  vote  of  200  to  125. 
In  anticipation  of  the  result,  and  subject  to  pos- 
sible repeal,  the  county  had  already  adopted  a 
similar  ordinance,  and  the  adoption  of  a  dry 
ordinance  by  the  Bishop  authorities  confirmed  the 

Under  the  provisions  of  a  change  made  in  the 
State  revenue  laws  of  California  adopted  in  1910, 
Inyo  County  was  deprived  of  that  part  of  its  in- 
come which  came  from  the  taxation  of  railroads 
and  other  public  service  property.  Certain  pro- 
vision for  reimbursement  was  made  by  the  amend- 
ment itself.  Though  this  lost  revenue  was  right- 
fully due  to  the  county  from  the  State,  it  was  a 
neglected  issue  until  County  Auditor  Thomas  M. 
Kendrick,  knowing  the  facts  thoroughly,  made  its 
collection  a  personal  purpose.  While  attorneys 
were  employed,  the  writer  believes  it  but  just  to 
say  here  that  success  in  the  whole  matter  was 
principally  due  to  Mr.  Kendrick.  A  bill  reimburs- 
ing Inyo  County  to  the  amount  of  $100,382  became 
law,  the  sum  being  a  large  part,  but  not  all,  of 
the  total  due. 

With  this  money  on  hand,  and  with  a  surplus 
in  the  treasury,  the  Supervisors  felt  justified  in 
proceeding  with  the  construction  of  a  new  court- 
house. A  contract  for  $158,700  was  let  to  William 
McCombs  &  Son,  April  10,  1920.  The  structure 
has  been  accepted,  and  is  now  being  occupied. 

320  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

For  the  first  time,  tlie  county's  records  will  be 
safe,  and  the  public  business  will  be  done  in  a 
building  as  creditable  to  the  county  as  to  its  de- 
signer and  its  builder.  And — for  the  future  to 
read — ^note  that  the  undertaking  has  not  called 
for  either  a  bond  issue  or  for  taxes  higher  than 
those  prevalent  in  other  counties ;  in  fact  the  com- 
parison usually  discloses  that  Inyo's  rate  is 
among  the  State's  lowest. 



Investigation  was  begun  in  July,  1903,  of  the 
feasibility  of  a  project  for  reclamation  of  arid 
lands  in  the  Owens  "River  watershed,  under  di- 
rection of  the  National  Reclamation  Service.  The 
plan  announced  to  be  followed,  in  case  of  favor- 
able findings,  was  to  be  similar  to  that  employed 
in  other  parts  of  the  West,  where  flood  waters 
were  being  stored  and  distributed  to  promote  set- 
tlement and  development.  The  proposed  details  in- 
cluded ''high  line"  canals  skirting  the  foothills 
on  either  side  of  the  valley,  with  laterals  for 
proper  distribution.  Drainage  of  such  tracts  as 
might  require  it  was  also  included  in  the  plan. 

The  project  was  heartily  welcomed  by  the  peo- 
ple of  Owens  Valley.  Some  storage  locations 
had  previously  been  made  by  citizens,  who,  how- 
ever, lacked  the  means  requisite  to  carrying  out 
their  purposes.  Those  claims  were  willingly  sur- 
rendered at  the  Government's  request,  and  every 
co-operation  that  the  service  asked  was  freely 
given  by  the  large  number  of  people  who  were 


322  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

already  deriving  the  water  supplies  essential  to 
their  farms  from  sources  that  would  be  involved 
in  the  project. 

Extensive  investigations  were  made,  covering 
stream  measurements,  tests  of  soils,  area  of  farm- 
ing lands,  the  duty  of  water  in  this  climate,  sites 
of  proposed  storage  dams,  and  other  details. 
Among  the  reports  was  a  showing  that  the  avail- 
able volume  of  water  would  be  sufficient,  or  nearly 
so,  to  reclaim  practically  all  of  the  untilled  land 
in  the  valley.  Estimates  of  cost  demonstrated 
that  the  Owens  Valley  Project,  as  it  was  known, 
promised  greater  results  for  the  necessary  invest- 
ments than  any  other  that  had  been  completed  or 
that  was  then  under  study.  Every  detail  of  the 
undertaking  was  favorable,  and  the  people  of  Inyo, 
while  noting  the  slowness  of  definite  announce- 
ment or  action,  entertained  no  doubt  of  the  good 
faith  of  the  work  being  done.  Months  went  by 
while  the  Eeclamation  Bureau  did  little  more  than 
mark  time. 

In  the  early  days  of  August,  1905,  news  came 
that  the  city  of  Los  Angeles  was  planning  to 
utilize  Owens  Eiver  as  an  additional  water  sup- 
ply. The  report  seemed  incredible,  for  not  only 
was  the  Eeclamation  Project  to  be  reckoned  with, 
but  the  undertaking  would  involve  construction 
of  an  aqueduct  over  200  miles  in  length  and  cost- 
ing many  million  dollars.  But  developments  soon 
proved  the  forecast  to  be  correct. 

Fred  Eaton,  a  former  Mayor  of  Los  Angeles, 
during  the  year  preceding  had  bought  extensive 
land  holdings  in  the  southern  and  central  part  of 


Owens  Valley,  chiefly  those  bordering  on  or 
watered  from  Owens  River.  It  developed  that 
these  purchases  fitted  into  the  city's  plan,  as  he 
in  turn  deeded  the  greater  part  of  such  lands  to 
Los  Angeles.  After  the  revelation  of  the  scheme 
the  buying  campaign  was  carried  on  openly,  until 
the  city  had  acquired  70,000  or  more  acres.  The 
natural  alarm  created  by  the  whole  situation  was 
not  lessened  by  declarations  of  the  Los  Angeles 
press.  That  the  county  buildings  would  become 
the  habitations  of  bats  and  owls  and  that  grass 
would  grow  in  the  streets  of  the  county  seat,  were 
sample  predictions. 

It  was  soon  demonstrated  that  the  Reclamation 
Service,  instead  of  being  in  any  way  an  inter- 
ference, was  proving  itself  to  be  but  the  city's 
ally  and  agent  in  Owens  Valley.  This  was  not 
with  the  co-operation,  however,  of  Project 
Engineer  Clausen,  in  direct  local  charge. 

The  head  of  the  Reclamation  Service  in  Cali- 
fornia, and  the  supervising  officer  of  the  Owens 
Valley  Project,  was  J.  B.  Lippincott,  of  Los 
Angeles.  A  Los  Angeles  newspaper  stated  that 
Eaton,  Lippincott,  William  Mulholland  (chief 
engineer  of  the  aqueduct)  and  others  had  for  four 
years  investigated  all  water  sources  within  reach. 
Lippincott 's  employment  with  the  Reclamation 
Service  had  begun  within  that  time.  The  Los 
Angeles  Times  remarked: 

"Without  Mr.  Lippincott's  co-operation  the  plan  would 
never  have  gone  through.  Any  other  government  engineer,  a 
non-resident  of  Los  Angeles,  undoubtedly  would  have  gone 
ahead  with  nothing  more  than  the  mere  reclamation  of  arid 
lands  in  view." 

324  THE    STORY    OP    INYO 

During  the  time  that  reclamation  project  in- 
vestigations had  been  under  way  in  Owens  Val- 
ley under  Lippincott's  supervision,  he  had  been 
employed  by  the  city  of  Los  Angeles  to  investi- 
gate water  sources.  Lippincott's  report  to  the 
city  on  Owens  Valley  water  supply,  a  payment  of 
$1,000  to  him  and  his  partner  covering  three 
months  of  the  period  of  his  employment,  while  he 
was  still  in  charge  of  reclamation,  and  other  de- 
tails relative  to  the  subject  are  authenticated.  In 
other  words,  Lippincott  had  been  put  in  charge  of 
reclamation  matters,  presumably  for  advancing 
them  in  good  faith ;  at  the  same  time  he  was  fur- 
thering a  scheme  involving  the  defeat  of  a  promis- 
ing reclamation  project,  and  was  using  his  official 
position  for  that  purpose. 

About  the  time  the  Los  Angeles  proposition 
became  publicly  known,  a  Board  of  Engineers  met 
in  San  Francisco  to  consider  the  reports  on  the 
Owens  Valley  Eeclamation  Project  and  to  decide 
on  its  feasibility.  The  chief  reports  were  those 
of  Project  Engineer  Clausen,  who  on  facts  and 
figures  urged  that  the  undertaking  be  carried  out 
as  designed.  Lippincott  was  also  present;  and 
while  admitting  the  complete  feasibility  of  the 
project,  he  argued  for  turning  the  field  over  to 
Los  Angeles.  The  Board  of  Engineers  approved 
Clausen's  view,  and  reported  for  continuing  the 
original  project. 

Lippincott's  superior  in  office  was  F.  H. 
Newell.  He,  too,  was  a  party  to  the  city's  scheme, 
as  appeared  from  the  following  passage  in  the 
record  of  the  Los  Angeles  Water  Conomission  of 
June  5, 1905 : 


"The  Superintendent  suggested  that  inasmuch  as  the  de- 
partment had  received  valuable  assistance  from  the  Reclama- 
tion department  of  the  United  States  Government  in  con- 
nection with  the  procurement  of  a  water  supply  from  the 
Owens  River  Valley,  a  letter  should  be  addressed  to  Mr.  F.  H. 
Newell,  Chief  Engineer,  acknowledging  such  assistance  and 
reporting  progi-ess  to  date,  as  that  department  is  holding  in 
abeyance  some  work  it  had  designed  in  that  valley  pending  our 

In  tlie  course  of  one  of  the  suits  which  were 
brought  in  Los  Angeles  during  the  progress  of 
aqueduct  proceedings,  an  officer  testified  that  the 
resolution  had  been  communicated  to  Newell ;  that 
a  copy  of  it  had  been  made,  but  by  direction  of  a 
city  officer  it  had  been  destroyed  in  order  that  '*it 
might  not  be  used  to  the  detriment  of  the  city  and 
those  who  had  aided  it. ' ' 

In  spite  of  some  dissent  in  the  city  itself,  an 
overwhelming  majority  favored  the  first  great 
bond  issue,  $22,500,000,  and  subsequent  support 
was  given  as  required.  Some  of  the  dissent  came 
from  interests  for  business  reasons ;  no  small  part 
of  it  was  from  citizens  who  were  acquainted  with 
the  character  of  Owens  River  flow,  or  had  other 
sincere  grounds.  Different  investigating  parties 
were  sent  along  the  aqueduct  route;  it  was  re- 
marked, however,  that  such  parties  were  in- 
variably under  the  chaperonage  of  one  or  more  of 
the  chief  advocates  of  the  plan.  But  the  bulk  of 
the  citizens  of  Los  Angeles  took  their  opinions 
ready  made,  and  the  different  elections  and  dis- 
cussions of  the  topic  were  hardly  more  than  mat- 
ters of  form. 

Additional  settlement  of  vacant  lands  at  that 

326  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

period  was  not  desired  by  the  aqueduct  promoters, 
for  such  development  might  reduce  the  water  sup- 
ply available  for  the  scheme.  Los  Angeles  bu- 
reau, which  proved  its  efficiency  in  many  ways 
during  the  period,  headed  off  such  possibilities  by 
the  simple  expedient  of  having  the  Forest  Service, 
then  under  ultra-conservationist  Gifford  Pinchot, 
withdraw  all  vacant  land  in  the  Owens  Valley 
watershed  on  the  preposterous  pretense  of  its  be- 
ing ''forest."  This  included  square  leagues  cov- 
ered with  grass  and  sagebrush,  where  the  only 
trees  within  any  reasonable  distance  were  those 
that  had  been  planted  by  settlers.  It  was  further 
directed  that  all  applications  for  land  permitted 
under  forest  regulations  be  referred  to  the  city 
of  Los  Angeles  for  approval.  One  subordinate 
after  another  reported  in  favor  of  restoring  such 
lands  to  entry,  during  the  next  several  years,  but 
onerous  and  retarding  conditions  prevailed  until 
President  Taft  issued  such  order  February  23, 
1911 ;  and  even  then  it  was  more  than  a  year  later 
that  they  were  fully  removed. 

There  were  some  important  phases  which  not 
all  the  strained  constructions  and  special  depart- 
mental orders  could  be  made  to  cover,  and  it  had 
been  necessary  as  a  preliminary  for  the  city  to  go 
to  Congress  for  rights  of  way.  Owens  Valley  pre- 
sented its  case  through  Congressman  Sylvester  C. 
Smith,  at  all  times  the  steadfast  champion  of  the 
rights  of  the  people  of  Inyo.  He  submitted,  with 
the  complete  approval  of  Inyo  representatives,  the 
following  basis  of  agreement : 

First,  that  the  vested  rights  of  the  people  of 
Owens  Valley  be  fully  recognized; 


Second,  tlie  city  to  be  awarded  10,000  inches 
of  the  flow  of  Owens  River.  It  was  felt  that  this 
was  ample,  for  Los  Angeles  engineers  had  re- 
ported, after  making  every  allowance  for  growth, 
that  2,500  inches  of  supplemental  flow  would  pro- 
vide an  ample  water  supply  in  1925 ; 

Third,  Owens  Valley  lands  to  be  reclaimed ; 

Fourth,  any  surplus  then  remaining  to  belong 
to  the  city  to  use  as  it  might  wish. 

It  may  be  well  to  say  here  that  the  people  of 
Owens  Valley  did  not  at  any  time  whatsoever  ob- 
ject to  Los  Angeles  taking  any  amount  of  water 
that  might  be  required  for  the  domestic  and  mu- 
nicipal uses  for  which  the  aqueduct  was  urged, 
and  there  was,  and  is,  no  doubt  of  the  supple- 
mental allotment  proposed  being  ample  for  those 
purposes  for  decades  to  come.  The  Owens  Val- 
leyans  contended  that  the  real  purpose  of  the 
whole  undertaking  was  not  the  alleged  city  need, 
put  forward  as  an  excuse,  but  the  diverting  of 
Owens  River  from  its  natural  watershed,  and  from 
use  on  the  lands  which  so  much  needed  it,  to  areas 
in  the  vicinity  of  Los  Angeles  for  irrigation  and 
speculative  purposes.  The  passing  years  have 
proved  the  correctness  of  this  belief. 

Secretary  of  the  Interior  Hitchcock  accepted 
the  suggestions  of  Mr.  Smith  and  incorporated 
them  in  his  recommendations  on  the  bill.  But 
President  Roosevelt  was  reached  through  the 
ultra-conservationists  in  his  ''Tennis  Cabinet" — 
that  coterie  of  the  Pinchot  school,  who  stood  high 
in  the  President's  favor.  He  directed  that  all  re- 
strictions on  the  city's  grant  of  water  rights  be 

328  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

stricken  out,  and  Los  Angeles  was  virtually  em- 
powered to  go  to  the  limit  of  its  desires  and 

While  there  was  not  the  unity  of  action  by 
Inyo  people  that  the  necessity  demanded,  Inyo 
did  not  submit  meekly  to  the  program.  But  the 
protestants  were  only  a  handful ;  their  despoilers 
numbered  hundreds  of  thousands.  Inyo  had  no 
defense  money,  except  as  scant  individual  ad- 
vances could  be  secured;  Los  Angeles  had  a  city 
treasury  wide  open  for  the  occasion.  Inyo  was 
taken  unaware;  Los  Angeles  had  shrewdly  laid 
and  matured  its  schemes  before  their  announce- 
ment. The  city  had  so  established  its  influence 
in  places  of  power  and  had  so  secure  a  hold  on 
officials  where  needed  that  opposing  efforts  were 
useless,  not  only  against  legislation,  but  against 
misuse  of  reclamation  law  and  departmental  pur- 
poses. The  ''Owens  Valley  Kickers"  came  to  be 
well  known  in  the  bureau-controlled  irrigation 
congresses  and  in  Washington  departments  hav- 
ing to  do  with  the  issue,  and  that  was  the  sum 
of  their  achievements. 

The  city's  plans  have  been  further  expanded 
to  include  a  huge  power  enterprise  involving  the 
storage  of  the  waters  of  Owens  River  in  Long 
Valley,  not  many  miles  below  their  headwaters. 
This  directly  affects  all  irrigation  in  Owens  Val- 
ley, from  that  source,  and  when  this  is  written 
negotiations  for  a  clear  definition  of  rights  and 
guarantees  are  in  progress — as  they  have  been 
for  long  past.  A  satisfactory  agreement  should 
be  the  final  chapter  of  a  long-standing  question. 


and  its  consummation  will  be  local  history  of  the 
first  importance. 

This  is  written  as  a  brief  record,  necessarily 
giving  only  the  merest  outline  of  events  and  af- 
fairs that  in  complete  details  would  suffice  to  fill 
a  volume.  Neither  the  completion  of  the  aqueduct, 
the  passage  of  time,  nor  the  benefits,  along  with 
injuries,  that  have  come  to  Owens  Valley  give  rea- 
son for  changing  the  statement  that  the  diversion 
of  Owens  River  water  from  appurtenant  lands  to 
be  used  on  tracts  two  hundred  miles  distant,  in 
a  different  watershed,  was  won  through  perver- 
sion of  the  intent  of  the  Reclamation  Act.  In 
phrasing  more  accurately  descriptive  than  elegant, 
"the  government  held  Owens  Valley  while  Los 
Angeles  skinned  it." 

The  aqueduct  was  built,  a  wonderful  enter- 
prise worthy  of  an  ambitious  city.  The  Los 
Angeles  land  buying  came  to  an  end  without  reach- 
ing deeply  into  cultivated  lands;  but  the  tracts 
that  have  passed  to  the  city,  be  they  natural  grass 
areas  or  productive  farms,  have  been  thrown  back 
to  primitive  neglect  by  the  policy  of  taking  their 
irrigation  water  to  help  to  fill  the  aqueduct. 
Artesian  wells  were  put  down,  to  add  to  the  water 
supply;  their  success,  without  interference  with 
adjacent  areas,  seems  problematical.  Los  Angeles 
acquiesced  in  a  constitutional  amendment  for  the 
just  purpose  of  insuring  the  county  against  some 
of  the  loss  of  revenue  from  city  ownership.  South- 
em  railroad  connection,  when  accomplished,  was 
a  direct  result  of  the  aqueduct  work.  Some  of 
these  things  are  to  be  set  on  the  credit  side  of  the 

330  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

account.  We  shall  gladly  list  with  them  the  pro- 
fessions of  amity,  whenever  by  meeting  the  just 
and  reasonable  demands  of  Owens  Valley  the  city 
shall  show  that  any  consideration  it  may  extend 
arises  from  the  sense  of  equity,  and  not  merely 
as  an  incident  in  securing  some  further  conces- 



Inyo  bore  its  part  in  the  Great  War.  Not  only 
did  its  young  men  answer  as  their  country  called, 
but  some  of  them  did  not  wait  for  that  call.  Some 
volunteered,  waiving  exemptions;  others,  before 
this  nation  became  an  active  participant,  went 
across  the  Canadian  line  and  joined  the  British 
forces  to  help  to  end  the  menace  of  the  Kaiser. 
No  complete  roll  of  those  who  went  to  fortress 
or  field  from  this  county,  or  who,  belonging  here, 
joined  the  colors  from  some  other  locality,  can  be 
had.  There  were  five  hundred  or  more,  in  all, 
from  our  small  population.  Some  we  sadly  laid 
away  in  our  own  cemeteries,  in  their  uniforms; 
some  sleep  in  foreign  lands.  The  total  roll  of 
Inyo  soldier  dead,  so  far  as  it  has  been  obtained 
and  corrected,  includes  these : 

Thomas  E.  Climo  Joel  Henry  Lawrence 

Abraham  Diaz,  Jr.  Fred  E.  Lewis 

Roy  W.  Fitchett  J.  L.  Linde 

Arthur  W.  Fritch  Oren  E.  Morton 
George  Benjamin  Hogle    Frank  Parrish 

Fred  A.  Humphreys  Grayson  Wilkerson 

Joseph  Konda,  Jr.  Oliver  Wingfield 

Herbert  Landin  Frank  A.  Wodicker 



During  the  years,  Inyo's  advance  was  gradual, 
but  sure,  toward  better  things  in  every  line. 
Ajnong  all  the  wide-openness  of  frontier  condi- 
tions there  was  a  leaven  of  higher  aspirations — 
not  only  men  and  women  who  were  with  but  not 
of  the  scenes  of  an  almost  lawless  period,  but  those 
who  were  for  the  moment  but  submerging  their 
better  thoughts  and  who  later  proved  their  worth. 
As  has  been  shown,  even  while  pistols  were  fre- 
quently seen  and  sometimes  used,  a  strong  ma- 
jority had,  in  one  part  of  the  county,  voted  to 
abolish  the  bars  whence  came  most  of  the  blood- 

What  progress  the  settlers  made  was  to  their 
own  credit.  Strangers  were  so  few  that  he  who 
did  not  know  practically  every  one  of  prominence 
from  Darwin  to  Round  Valley  was  poorly 
acquainted.  Travel  to  'Hhe  outside"  was  almost 
prohibited  by  the  cost,  time  and  effort  required. 
Mails  were  infrequent,  but  they  came  laden  with 
a  total  of  reading  matter  surprising  considering 
the  small  population.  This  was  a  self-reliant  peo- 
ple. Labor  took  the  place  of  non-existent  money 
to  build  canals,  and  necessity  found  the  valley 
equally  ready  to  care  for  itself  in  other  ways  as 
need  arose. 

There  were  enough  of  the  really  progressive 


IN    CLOSING  333 

to  branch  out  for  community  and  county  better- 
ment ;  and  though  it  often  happened  that  a  degree 
of  inertia  had  to  be  conquered,  each  issue  went 
forward  to  final  success.  Co-operative  enterprises 
played  a  large  part  in  our  welfare;  and  while  it 
might  be  justifiable  to  trace  out  the  beginnings 
of  the  various  movements  for  local  upbuilding, 
stock,  farms,  apiary,  fruit,  and  so  on,  suffice  it  to 
say  that  those  who  have  come  later  have  carried 
on  the  work  the  pioneers  began.  Organizations 
for  social,  personal  and  public  advancement,  fra- 
ternities, clubs  and  other  bodies  for  both  men 
and  women,  have  grown  in  keeping  with  the  spirit 
that  will  enable  the  future  writer  to  dwell  more 
on  the  details  of  achievements  than  on  the  hard- 
ships of  pioneering. 




County  Judge 

Oscar  L.  Matthews  appointed  by  Governor, 
1866;  1868-1871,  A.  C.  Hanson;  1872-1880,  John  A. 
Hannah.    Office  abolished  by  new  constitution. 

SuPEEiOB  Judge 
1880-1890,  John  A.  Hannah;  1891-1896,  George 
M.  Gill;  1897-1908,  Walter  A.  Lamar;  1909  to 
present,  William  D.  Dehy. 

1866,  W.  A.  Greenly,  resigned  December,  1867 ; 
1868-1869,  W.  L.  Moore,  resigned  November,  1869; 
1870-1871,  A.  B.  Elder;  1871-1873,  Cyrus  Mulkey, 
resigned  May,  1874 ;  J.  J.  Moore  appointed,  served 
to  end  of  1875 ;  1876  to  February  10, 1878,  Thomas 
Passmore,  killed  in  discharge  of  duty;  1878  to 
July  3, 1879,  William  L.  Moore,  killed  in  discharge 
of  duty;  J.  J.  Moore  appointed  to  serve  for 
remainder  of  year;  1880-1882,  J.  W.  Smith;  1883- 
1884,  S.  G.  Gregg;  1885-1886,  J.  S.  McGee;  1887- 
1888,  S.  G.  Gregg;  1889-1890,  J.  R.  Eldred; 
1891-1894,  J.  S.  Gorman;  1895-1902,  A.  M.  Given; 
1903-1906,  Charles  A.  Collins ;  1907-1910,  George 
W.  Naylor;  1911-1914,  Charles  A.  Collins;  1915  to 
present,  Frank  Logan. 


appendices  335 

Clerk,  Auditor  and  Eecorder 

1866,  Thomas  Passmore,  resigned  May  6, 1867 ; 
S.  P.  Moffatt  appointed  then  elected,  serving  to 
end  of  1871;  1872-1874,  M.  W.  Hammarstrand ; 
1875-1877,  W.  B.  Dangherty;  1878,  John  Crough, 
who  served  until  March,  1884,  when  he  suicided  in 
the  Clerk's  office;  Thomas  Crough  appointed  for 
remainder  of  1884.  1885-1886,  William  L.  Hunter ; 
1887-1890,  P.  H.  Mack;  1891-1892,  John  N.  Yan- 
dell;  1893,  D.  J.  Hession,  who  served  until  his 
death  in  February,  1900;  J.  E.  Meroney  ap- 
pointed, and  served  by  election  to  end  of  1906; 
1907-1914,  William  L.  Hunter,  Jr.  Offices  of  Clerk, 
Auditor  and  Eecorder  segregated  effective  Jan- 
uary, 1915.  Jess  Hession  served  as  Clerk,  1915- 
1918 ;  Dan  E.  Williams,  1919  to  present. 


Position  segregated  from  Clerk's  duties  begin- 
ning 1915.     1915  to  present,  Thos.  M.  Kendrick. 


Position  segregated  from  Clerk's  duties  be- 
ginning 1915.  1915,  W.  L.  Hunter  Jr.,  who  died 
February  4,  1920.  Mrs.  Mamie  Reynolds  ap- 
pointed, elected  that  year,  and  present  incumbent. 


1866-1867,  John  T.  Ryan;  1867,  A.  C.  Stevens, 
resigned,  L.  A.  Talcott  appointed ;  1869-1871,  Geo. 
W.  Brady;  1872-1873,  J.  F.  Dillon ;  1873-1874,  Wm. 
J.  Lake;  1875-1879,  J.  F.  Dillon;  1880,  Thos.  May, 

336  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

who  absconded  May  1881,  with  shortage  of 
$1,279.  J.  C.  Irwin  appointed;  1883-1886,  John  C. 
Irwin;  1887-1898,  P.  A.  Chalfant;  1899-1914,  W. 
W.  Yandell;  1915-1918,  Vivian  L.  Jones;  1919, 
U.  Gr.  Clark,  present  incumbent. 


1866,  John  Lentell;  1868-9,  Andrew  N.  Bell; 
1870-1871,  Isaac  Harris;  1872-1879,  Henry  M. 
Isaacs;  1880-1886,  Geo.  H.  Hardy;  1887-1892,  J.  J. 
Moore ;  1893,  W.  T.  Bunney  forward  to  December 
1902,  when  he  absconded,  with  some  shortage; 
1903-1906,  Irv.  H.  Mulholland;  1907  forward,  A. 
P.  Mairs,  present  incumbent. 

District  Attorney 

1866,  John  Beveridge,  failed  to  qualify;  Thos. 
P.  Slade  appointed,  resigned  August  1868;  Pat 
Reddy  appointed,  failed  to  qualify ;  P.  W.  Bennett 
appointed.  Beveridge  elected  1869,  failed  to 
qualify,  Bennett  again  appointed;  1872-1873,  E. 
H.  Van  Decar;  1874-1875,  R.  B.  Snelling;  1876- 
1877,  P.  W.  Bennett;  1878-1879,  E.  B.  Snelling; 
1880-1886,  J.  W.  P.  Laird;  1887-1888,  P.  W. 
Forbes;  1889-1890,  Geo.  M.  Gill;  1891-1898,  P.  W. 
Forbes;  1899-1910,  Wm.  D.  Dehy;  1911-1914,  F. 
C.  Scherrer;  1915-1918,  P.  W.  Forbes;  1919,  Jess 
Hession,  present  incumbent. 

Superintendent  of  Schools 

1866,  Josiah  Earl;  1868-1869,  C.  M.  Joslyn; 
1870-1873,  J.  W.  Symmes;  1874-1875,  Geo.  H. 
Hardy;    1876-1882,   J.    W.    Symmes;   1883-1886, 


Chas.  H.  Groves;  1886-1894,  J.  H.  Shannon;  1895- 
1898,  S.  W.  Austin;  1899-1902,  H.  0.  Hampton; 
1903  to  present,  Mrs.  M.  A.  Clarke. 


1866,  B.  D.  Blaney;  1867,  A.  Farnsworth,  place 
declared  vacant  and  John  A.  Lank  appointed, 
serving  to  end  of  1873;  1874-5,  A.  Wayland;  1876- 
1877,  J.  D.  Blair;  1877-1878,  John  A.  Lank;  1879- 
1882,  V.  G.  Thompson;  1883-1884,  G.  W.  Brady; 
1885-1888,  Wm.  F.  Matlack;  1889-1892,  Thos. 
Parker;  1893-1894,  H.  H.  Howell;  1895-1898,  L  J. 
Woodin;  1899-1902,  I.  P.  Yaney;  1903  until  his 
death  March  2, 1916,  H.  H.  Eobinson;  M.  M.  Skin- 
ner appointed;  1918,  Milton  Levy,  resigned,  Oris 
Carrasco  appointed,  present  incumbent. 

Tax  Collector 

Position  segregated  from  Sheriff's  office,  effec- 
tive with  beginning  of  1907 ;  1907-1910,  J.  E.  Shep- 
herd; 1911-1914,  C.  L  MacFarlane;  1915-1918,  U. 
G.  Clark;  1919  to  present,  Mrs.  Jessie  C.  Miller. 


1866-1872,  Lyman  Tuttle;  1873-1876,  M.  H. 
White;  1877-1886,  Joseph  Seely;  1887-1894,  S.  P. 
McKnight;  1895-1902;  W.  G.  Dixon;  1903-1910, 
A.  M.  Strong;  1918  to  present,  B.  E.  Sherwin. 

338  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 



Inyo's  vote  has  never  been  heavy  enough  to 
be  unportant  in  national  or  State  issues.  Though 
counted  as  normally  Eepublican  on  national  ques- 
tions, its  decisions  have  been  independent  in  the 
extreme.  In  county  elections  there  was  but  a 
minimum  of  ' '  sticking  to  party  lines, ' '  during  the 
days  before  non-partisanship  became  the  legislated 
system.  It  frequently  or  usually  happened  that 
while  the  vote  on  the  head  of  the  ticket  was  for 
one  party  the  majority  of  elected  county  officers 
were  of  a  different  political  faith. 

The  votes  at  the  more  important  elections  have 
been  as  follows : 

1867,  for  Congress — Axtell,  Democrat,  104; 
Phelps,  Eepublican,  102. 

1868,  President— Grant  Electors,  113;  Sey- 
mour Electors,  100. 

1871,  Governor — Haight,  Democrat,  311; 
Booth,  Republican,  257. 

1872,  President— Grant  Electors,  206;  Greeley 
Electors,  176. 

1875,  Governor — Bidwell,  Independent,  248; 
Phelps,  Republican,  179;  Irwin,  Democrat,  159. 

1876,  President— Tilden  Electors,  375;  Hayes 
Electors,  343. 

1879,  Governor — Perkins,  Republican,  295; 
Glenn,  Fusion,  252. 

1880,  President— Garfield  Electors,  321 ;  Han- 
cock Electors,  294. 

1882,    Governor — Stoneman,    Democrat,    321; 


Estee,  Republican,  300;  rest  of  State  ticket  Re- 
publican majority  of  about  10. 

1884,  President — Blaine  Electors,  345-;  Cleve- 
land Electors,  283. 

1886,  Governor — Swift,  Republican,  356 ;  Bart- 
lett.  Democrat,  283. 

1888,     President — Harrison     Electors,     406 
Cleveland  Electors,  274. 

1890,  Governor — ^Markham,  Republican,  409 
Pond,  Democrat,  305. 

1892,     President — Harrison     Electors,     406 
Cleveland  Electors  260. 

1894,  Governor — Estee,  Republican,  476 ;  Budd, 
Democrat,  228.  In  this  campaign  the  vote  was 
influenced  by  A.  R.  Conklin,  of  Inyo,  being  the 
Republican  nominee  for  Lieutenant  Governor. 

1896,  President— Bryan  Electors  532;  McKin- 
ley  Electors,  236.  The  free-silver  issue  strongly 
appealed  to  many  Inyoites  in  this  campaign. 

1898,  Governor — Maguire,  Democrat,  508; 
Gage,  Republican,  478. 

1900,  President— Bryan  Electors,  530 ;  McKin- 
ley  Electors,  397. 

1902,    Governor — Pardee,    Republican,     435 
Lane,  Democrat,  427. 

1904,     President — Roosevelt     Electors,     452 
Parker  Electors,  230. 

1906,  Governor — ^Langdon,  Independent,  387 
Gillett,  Republican,  284;  Bell,  Democrat,  190. 

1908,  President— Taft  Electors,  574;  Bryan 
Electors,  609. 

1910,  Governor — Bell,  Democrat,  634 ;  Johnson, 
Republican,  582. 

340  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

1912,  President— Wilson  Electors,  806 ;  Roose- 
velt Electors,  302;  Debs  Electors,  302;  Chafin 
Electors,  77;  Taft  Electors,  8.  The  swing  to 
Wilson  in  this  election  was  due  not  only  to  the 
Republican  split  but  also  to  Inyo  resentment  at 
the  President's  attitude  toward  this  valley  in  the 
Los  Angeles  controversy. 

1914,  Governor — Johnson,  Progressive,  876; 
Fredericks,  Republican,  601;  Richardson,  Social- 
ist, 378;  Curtin,  Democrat,  258;  Moore,  Prohibi- 
tion, 73. 

1916,  President — ^Wilson  Electors,  967;  Hughes 
Electors,  844 ;  Benson  Electors,  151 ;  Hanley  Elec- 
tors, 51. 

1918,  Grovernor — Stephens,  Republican,  744; 
Bell,  Democrat,  315;  Roser,  Socialist,  88. 

1920,  President— Harding  Electors,  1192;  Cox 
Electors,  681 ;  Socialist  Electors  179 ;  Prohibition 
Electors,  31. 


Altitudes  of  peaks  neighboring  Owens  Valley 
are  sometimes  a  matter  of  controversy.  In  listing 
for  convenient  reference  a  trifle  of  information, 
it  is  found  that  observers  diifer  in  several  cases. 
Gannett 's  Dictionary  of  Altitudes  is  a  publication 
of  the  United  States  Geological  Survey;  so  are 
pamphlets  giving  the  results  of  spirit  leveling,  and 
so  are  the  U.  S.  G.  S.  quadrangle  maps.     There 


are  instances  in  which  no  two  of  these,  all  from 
the  same  authority,  agree  in  statements.  North 
Palisade,  or  Mt.  Jordan,  is  given  as  14,250,  14,275 
and  14,282.  One  puts  Mt.  Williamson  at  14,500, 
another  14,384 ;  Mt.  Tyndall,  14,025  in  one  tabula- 
tion, is  14,386  in  another.  In  the  list  below  the 
quadrangle  figures  are  used  where  available.  A 
few  peaks  in  other  States  are  included  to  show  the 
relative  rank  of  the  highest  points  of  the  nation. 

Mt  Wliitney    14,501 

Mt.  Elbert,   Colorado    14,421 

Mt.  Blanca,  Colorado   14,390 

Mt.  Williamson    14,384 

Mt.  Shasta,  California  14,380 

Mt.  Harvard,   Colorado    14,375 

Mt.  Rainier,  Washington  14,363 

According  to  available  figures,  these  are  the 
seven  highest  in  the  continental  United  States. 
There  are  nearly  fifty  over  14,000  feet.  Disre- 
garding many  peaks  less  known,  some  other  alti- 
tudes are  as  follows: 

White  Mountain  Peak   (ranks  twentieth)    14,242 

Mt.  Sill    14,198 

Pike's  Peak,  Colorado    14,108 

Middle  Palisade  14,049 

Mt.  Langley    14,043 

Mt.  Muir   14,035 

Mt.  Barnard    14,003 

Mt.  Humphreys    13,972 

Mt.  Morgan    13,739 

Mt.  Tom 13,649 

Mt.  Montgomery  (White  Mountains)    13,465 

Basin  Mountain  13,229 

Mt.  Emerson    13,226 

Kearsarge  Peak  12,650 

342  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 


As  indicated  in  the  first  chapter  of  this  book, 
the  topographic  extremes  of  the  United  States 
proper  are  both  mthin  the  limits  of  Inyo  county. 
Mt.  Whitney  lifts  its  head  nearer  to  heaven  than 
any  other  spot.  Death  Valley  sinks  further  to- 
ward the  orthodox  nether  regions  than  any  other ; 
deeper  below  the  sea's  level,  and  is  at  least  not 
surpassed  on  earth  in  its  power  of  torment  for 
the  human  atoms  who  may  fall  within  its  clutches. 

Possession  of  the  ill-famed  sink  is  not  a  matter 
for  boastfulness.  Neither  is  it  necessarily  a  re- 
proach, for  aside  from  the  fact  that  it  is  a  mineral 
treasure  house,  it  is  so  far  distant  from  Owens 
Valley's  fertile  farms  and  comfortable  homes  that 
if  Death  Valley  and  all  its  neighborhood  were 
taken  from  our  map  Inyo  would  still  have  a 
greater  area  than  any  one  of  several  of  the  At- 
lantic States  possesses.  Bishop  is  farther  from 
Death  Valley  than  the  width  of  the  State  of  Con- 
necticut, and  there  is  plenty  of  room  to  outline  a 
new  Delaware  between  the  most  contiguous  points 
of  Owens  and  Death  Valleys.  The  territory  had 
to  be  under  some  jurisdiction,  and  it  was  wished 
upon  Inyo. 

A  distinction  is  made:  "Death  Valley"  is  a 
rather  broad  term  taking  in  a  large  area  of  deso- 
lation; "Death  Valley  proper"  is  much  smaller. 
The  broader  term  is  applied  not  only  to  the  more 
noted  central  portion  but  also  to  arms  or  branches 
known   as   Lost  Valley,   Saratoga   Springs,   etc. 


This  larger  region  extends  fully  120  miles. 
''Death  Valley  proper"  is  the  region  of  dread, 
and  is  fifty  or  sixty  miles  long.  This -more  re- 
stricted part  is  below  sea  level,  and  for  more  than 
forty  miles  is  floored  with  a  saline  marsh  from 
one  to  eight  miles  wide.  These  great  beds  change 
their  appearance  according  to  the  observer's  view 
point  and  the  time  of  day.  In  the  morning,  seen 
from  the  east,  and  in  the  afternoon,  seen  from  the 
west,  they  are  gleaming  white ;  reverse  the  hours 
and  positions  and  they  become  a  shady  gray.  This 
is  due  to  the  shadows  of  an  uneven  surface. 

On  the  west  the  Panamints,  on  the  east  the 
Funerals,  are  the  valley  walls.  Telescope  Peak, 
seen  from  the  valley,  is  majestic  indeed,  for  it 
stands  shoulders  above  the  range  to  its  left  and 
right,  and  has  an  elevation  of  10,938  feet  above 
sea  level.  The  observer  in  the  valley  is  some  200 
to  300  feet  lower  than  where  tides  ebb  and  flow, 
so  there  is  offered  the  greatest  difference  in  eleva- 
tion in  the  country.  Whitney  stands  much  higher, 
but  is  seen  from  a  valley  that  approximates  4000 
feet  above  the  sea,  and  the  contrast  is  less.  The 
Funerals — also  called  Grapevine  or  Amargosa  in 
different  places — rise  from  5000  to  9000  feet.  The 
Death  Valley  face  presents  a  varied  coloring, 
white  from  strata  of  borax,  gray,  green,  yellow, 
and  other  hues.  It  is  a  country  of  striking 

Geological  aspects  of  that  region  are  interest- 
ing to  the  thoughtful  layman  as  well  as  to  the  ex- 
pert. Sydney  H.  Ball,  of  the  Geological  Survey, 
gives  the  name  of  ''Pahute"  to  the  primeval  lake 

344  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

that  once  covered  the  area.  This  is  believed  to 
have  covered  the  country  from  north  of  Goldfield 
to  south  of  Death  Valley,  and  ninety  miles  east 
and  west.  Rugged  islands  rose  in  it  here  and 

"The  climate  must  have  been  moist,"  says  Ball,  "and  the 
presence  of  fossilized  wood  in  the  lake  beds  shows  that  trees 
flourished  near  the  shores.  The  lake  was  for  the  most  part 
fresh.  The  Pahute  lake  was  destroyed  in  part  by  the  in- 
creasing aridity  of  the  climate  and  in  part  by  deformation. 
"Volcanic  flows  and  explosive  eruptions  of  rhyolitic  material 
occurred  at  various  times  during  the  existence  of  the  lake. 
The  deformation  blocked  out  the  mountain  ranges  as  they 
now  appear  and  formed  many  of  the  enclosed  valleys  by 
broad  folding  or  warping.  Death  Valley  was  at  this  time 
first  outlined,  though  it  was  depressed  later. 

"In  Tertiary,  probably  early  and  middle  Miocene  time, 
Death  Valley  did  not  exist.  Amargosa  and  Panamint  ranges 
were  low,  and  their  southern  portions  at  least  were  covered 
by  a  lake  which  extended  well  into  the  present  Death  Valley 
south  of  Salt  Creek.  In  late  Pliocene  time,  however.  Death 
Valley  was  probably  a  closed  basin  occupied  by  a  sheet  of 

water The    folding   of   the   Amargosa   and   Panamint 

ranges  does  not  alone  account  for  the  valley,  and  it  appears 
to  be  a  block  dropped  down  between  the  bounding  ranges  by 

A  geological  survey  report  claims  that  Death 
Valley  is  one  of  the  best  watered  parts  of  the 
desert.  Water — mineralized — is  close  to  the  sur- 
face of  the  marshes.  The  Amargosa  River,  run- 
ning around  the  southern  end  of  the  Funeral 
Range,  turns  toward  the  southern  end  of  Death 
Valley,  but  rarely  carries  water  enough  to  reach 
the  sink.  It  is  said  that  it  has  not  carried  suffi- 
cient volume  to  discharge  into  the  sink  since  1850. 
Grenerally  its  bed  is  a  dry  wash,  with  water  in 


a  few  places  only;  but  when  a  cloudburst  occurs 
within  its  drainage  area  it  may  become  a  raging 
torrent  for  a  few  hours.  Willow,  Furnace  and 
Honepa  creeks  are  other  streams  of  considerable 
flows  which  are  lost  in  the  sands  within  a  few 
miles  of  the  springs  from  which  they  start.  How- 
ever pure  the  waters  of  these  streams  at  their 
heads,  they  soon  become  impregnated  with  min- 

The  Greological  Survey  lists  forty-eight  springs 
and  wells  in  the  area  north  of  Saratoga  Springs 
and  between  the  boundary  ranges.  Persons  fa- 
miliar with  the  country  say  that  not  more  than 
half  the  water  is  listed,  and  that  there  must  be  at 
leas  a  hundred  such  places.  Most  of  the  water 
holes  are  small,  yielding  but  a  few  gallons  in  a 
day's  seepage.  Saratoga  Springs  is  a  pool  twenty- 
five  feet  in  diameter  and  four  feet  deep.  While 
most  of  the  springs  are  charged  with  minerals, 
those  above  sea  level  are  considered  safe  for  use. 
The  ''poison  springs"  do  not  contain  arsenic,  we 
are  told  by  a  survey  authority,  but  are  charged 
with  Epsom  salts  and  Glauber's  salts,  and  are 
fatal  only  because  the  victim,  usually  weakened 
in  condition,  drinks  their  water  without  modera- 
tion. Usually  the  springs  are  hard  to  find,  and 
even  old-timers  in  the  vicinity  have  been  known 
to  hunt  for  two  or  three  days  before  coming  upon 
the  coveted  water  supply.  Indians  indicate  water 
holes  by  placing  white  rocks  conspicuously  on 
larger  rocks,  in  situations  where  they  can  be 
readily  seen. 

What  Death  Valley  has  cost  in  human  life  will 

346  THE    STOEY    OF    INYO 

never  be  known.  The  starting  point,  so  far  as 
known,  was  with  the  unfortunates  of  1849,  as 
related  in  this  book.  Probably  not  a  year  since 
the  white  people  began  coming  to  this  region  has 
passed  without  adding  to  the  list.  In  one  short 
period  covering  a  few  years  the  known  fatalities 
numbered  twelve.  It  is  said  that  during  1906 
thirty-two  bodies  were  found.  How  many  were 
lost  and  not  counted  in  such  records  will  never  be 
known;  how  many  started  out  on  a  "short  cut" 
and,  with  no  one  to  inquire  as  to  their  safe  arrival, 
got  no  farther  than  the  bottom  of  that  pit  no  one 
can  guess.  Near  the  Furnace  Creek  ranch  is  a 
graveyard  with  thirteen  mounds.  Generally  the 
dead  are  buried  where  found.  One  writer  has 
maintained  that  gases  from  the  marshes  has  had 
something  to  do  with  some  of  the  deaths,  but  no 
scientific  investigator  notes  any  fact  in  confirma- 

For  all  its  ill  repute,  there  is  much  of  interest 
in  the  noted  spot.  It  is  not  a  place  of  poisonous 
atmosphere.  Its  dangers  lie  in  disregard  of  the 
warnings  of  experience;  in  foolhardy  or  ignorant 
braving  of  its  furnacelike  heat  at  the  wrong  sea- 
son. Every  nook  in  it  has  been  explored;  trails 
and  roads  cross  it;  mining  is  done  in  its  moun- 
tains; gardens  produce  profusely  in  the  valley 
itself.  But  to  the  end  of  time  it  will  justify  its 
name,  and  men,  heedless  of  what  is  told  them,  will 
perish  in  its  burning  sunshine. 

It  is  a  place  of  paradoxes.  During  some  parts 
of  the  year  it  would  serve  as  a  veritable  health 
resort.    While  rain  is  scanty  and  seldom  falls,  the 


skies  shed  rivers  at  times.  It  is  the  hottest  place 
in  America,  but  is  often  shaded  by  snow-capped 
peaks.  Men  die  there  from  lack  of  moisture,  but 
waterfowl  tarry  in  Death  Valley  on  their  migra- 


The  United  States  Weather  Bureau  sent  an 
observer  and  assistant  to  Death  Valley  in  1881. 
The  assistant,  E.  H.  Williams,  was  unable  to 
stand  the  terrific  heat,  and  left;  John  H.  Clery, 
observer,  stayed  through  the  five  hottest  months. 

During  May,  June,  July,  August  and  Septem- 
ber the  average  temperature  was  94  degrees.  The 
highest  in  May  was  but  105;  each  of  the  three 
following  months  the  thermometer  reached  122, 
and  in  September  the  top  mark  was  119.  The 
July  average,  night  and  day,  was  a  trifle  over  102. 
These  maximum  temperatures  run  about  the  same 
as  in  the  hottest  places  in  India,  Arabia,  Lower 
California  and  northern  Mexico,  but  Death  Valley 
keeps  it  up  for  a  longer  period.  This  is  the  judg- 
ment of  the  Weather  Bureau.  Reports  from  other 
sources  seem  to  indicate  that  Mr.  Clery  happened 
to  make  his  visit  in  a  cool  summer.  The  writer 
has  been  informed  by  a  transient  Death  Valleyan 
that  the  mercury  in  a  common  thermometer 
reached  the  top  of  the  tube,  132  degrees,  in  the 
shade  at  the  Death  Valley  ranch.  It  is  said  that 
a  record  of  137  was  made  by  a  thermometer  on  the 
north  side  of  the  house  at  the  Furnace  Creek 
ranch.  Observations  made  by  common  thermom- 
eters are  rightly  open  to  suspicion,  so  better  evi- 

348  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

dence  is  given  by  a  tested  thermometer  used  by 
a  surveyor  who  ran  lines  in  the  valley  in  1883. 
He  kept  it  in  the  shade  and  hanging  over  a  stream. 
It  repeatedly  registered  130,  and  for  forty-eight 
hours  in  one  stretch  104  was  its  lowest. 

The  effects  of  such  conditions  are  striking. 
Meat  killed  at  night  and  cooked  at  6  in  the  morn- 
ing had  spoiled  at  9  o  'clock.  When  meat  is  fresh 
killed,  cut  thin  and  dipped  in  brine,  the  sun  cures 
it  in  an  hour.  Eggs  can  be  roasted  in  the  sand. 
Fig  trees  bloom  in  the  genial  air  of  late  winter  and 
early  spring,  but  their  fruit  never  matures. 
Furniture  warps,  splits  and  falls  to  pieces. 
Water  barrels  lost  their  hoops  within  an  hour 
after  emptied.  One  end  of  a  blanket  that  had  been 
washed  dried  while  the  other  end  was  in  the  tub. 
Near  where  these  tests  were  made  is  a  flat  rock 
upon  which  is  lettered:  "Hell,  8  miles;  Nowhere, 
150  miles." 

A  thirty-year  resident  of  that  country  noted 
that  he  had  known  the  mercury  to  stand  at  128 
and  130  at  midnight.  He  relates  that  he  once 
thought  to  take  a  refreshing  bath  in  water  from 
a  pipe  in  the  valley.  The  stream  that  fell  upon 
his  skin  was  so  near  scalding  that  he  gave  it  up 
as  too  hot  for  even  a  well-baked  ''desert  rat." 

The  air  is  not  only  hot;  it  is  kiln-dried.  It  is 
understood,  of  course,  that  we  write  of  the  ex- 
treme conditions,  at  the  hottest  season.  Most  of 
the  wind,  of  which  there  is  enough,  comes  from  the 
west  and  south.  The  Sierras,  Owens  Valley  and 
the  ranges  between  Death  Valley  and  the  coast 
extract  the  wind's  moisture  to  nearly  the  last 


degree.  The  glaring  wastes  and  sun  finish  the 
job.  Clery  found  remarkably  low  percentages  of 
humidity  during  his  stay.  Men  who  dug  a  ditch 
at  the  Furnace  Creek  ranch  slept  in  the -running 
stream  with  their  heads  safely  pillowed  above 

It  is  this  extreme  dryness  of  the  air  that  helps 
to  wind  up  the  lost  man.  The  moisture  is 
drawn  from  his  body  rapidly ;  his  drinking  supply 
is  drawn  upon,  the  more  excessively  if  he  is  un- 
acquainted with  the  dangers.  When  the  heat 
overcomes  him,  and  insanity  comes,  as  seems  to 
be  usually  the  case,  his  first  tendency  is  dig  for 
water  if  he  be  desert-wise.  One  experienced 
desert  habitue  who  had  become  lost  was  picked 
up  just  in  time  to  save  his  life.  He  had  started  to 
tunnel  through  the  Funeral  Range  to  reach  Green- 
water,  with  only  his  fingers  for  tools.  In  another 
case — typical  of  many — if  the  victim  had  had  the 
same  instinct,  he  might  have  lived;  for  when 
those  found  him  dug  a  grave  close  by  in  which  to 
lay  his  body  they  stmck  water  within  18  inches  of 
the  surface.  One  rescued  man  had  tied  all  his 
clothing  into  a  bimdle  and  was  carrying  it  on  his 
head,  under  the  impression  that  he  was  wading 
through  deep  waters. 

Bodies  of  those  lost  in  the  lowlands  decompose 
very  rapidly,  as  a  rule,  regardless  of  whether  they 
lie  on  salt  or  borax  fields  or  on  the  sand.  In  the 
higher  places  they  are  more  likely  to  wither  and 
mummify,  to  a  considerable  extent. 

An  experienced  ''desent  rat"  tells  of  hearing 
a  man  lecture  for  an  hour  on  how  to  avoid  the 


350  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

perils  of  the  desert;  a  week  later  the  lecturer  was 
rescued  from  the  fate  he  had  been  warning  against. 
One  man  about  to  perish  cut  his  palate  with  his 
knife  so  that  the  blood  dropped  on  his  tongue  and 
kept  it  from  swelling.  A  teamster  for  the  borax 
company  started  for  a  spring,  and  he  and  his 
mules  all  died  on  the  road. 

While  moisture  is  customarily  very  much  miss- 
ing, there  are  times  when  it  comes  copiously 
indeed,  in  the  form  of  cloudbursts.  They  are  most 
to  be  expected  in  the  hottest  weather.  One  who 
saw  such  an  occurrence  thus  described  it :  "  Right 
in  the  clear  sky  appears  a  cloud,  black  and  om- 
inous, streaked  with  fire,  growing  with  wonderful 
rapidity,  and  eventually  sagging  down  like  a  great 
sack.  The  cloud  is  always  formed  above  the 
mountains,  and  after  a  time  its  bulbous,  sagging 
body  strikes  a  peak.  Floods  of  water  are  released 
on  the  instant,  and  in  waves  of  incredible  size 
they  roll  down  the  cliffs  and  canyons.  Precipices 
and  peaks  are  carried  away,  gulches  are  filled  with 
the  debris,  mesas  and  foothills  are  covered.  The 
face  of  a  mountain  may  be  so  changed  within  an 
hour  as  to  be  scarcely  recognizable,  and  even  the 
lighter  storms  rip  the  heart  out  of  a  canyon,  so 
that  only  jagged  gulches  and  heaps  of  broken  rock 
are  found  where  once,  perhaps,  a  good  trail 

A  Death  Valley  pioneer  tells  of  sleeping  near 
the  mouth  of  Furnace  Creek  Canyon  with  a  * '  bug 
hunter" — desert  for  entomologist.  The  scientist, 
unable  to  sleep  in  the  hot  air,  gave  his  attention  to 
a  roaring  in  the  canyon,  along  toward  midnight. 


To  his  surprise,  the  space  between  the  canyon 
walls  suddenly  grew  white.  His  comrade  chanced 
to  waken,  and  the  bug  sharp  asked  him  what  ailed 
the  sky.  One  look  sufficed  to  cause  the  desert 
denizen  to  yell ' '  Cloudburst !  Climb ! ' '  And  climb 
they  did,  just  in  time  to  escape  a  wall  of  water 
which  was  estimated  to  be  not  less  than  a  hundred 
feet  high. 

It  has  been  stated  herein  that  winds  are  plenti- 
ful. Though  generally  of  but  a  few  hours  dura- 
tion, their  velocity  is  often  from  thirty  to  fifty 
miles  an  hour.  In  that  country  this  stirs  up  sand- 
storms which  must  be  seen,  or  experienced,  to  be 
fully  appreciated.  One  observer  says  he  awoke 
one  morning  to  find  the  air  full  of  a  whitish  haze. 
To  the  west  the  landscape  was  blotted  out  by  a 
dense  brown  fog — blown  particles  of  earth.  A 
Death  Valley  sandstorm  seen  from  the  mountain 
top  is  a  strange  spectacle.  The  huge  pit  of  Death 
Valley  is  full  of  tumbling  clouds  of  dust,  billows 
that  roll  and  change  with  every  instant.  After 
such  a  storm  the  sky  shows  generously  the  evening 
sky-markings  which  as  children  we  held  to  be 
caused  by  the  sun  ^'drawing  water."  After  a 
sandstorm  there  are  such  fan-like  shafts,  made  by 
suspended  dust  in  the  upper  air.  ' '  Sharp  squalls, ' ' 
says  one  writer,  '^  plunged  down  the  canyons  and 
gulches,  and  there  gathered  the  dusty  forms  in 
their  arms  and  went  whirling  away  in  gigantic 
waltzes.  It  is  no  wonder  that  the  Arabs  of  this 
desert  country,  the  Piutes,  believe  in  witches  and 
supernatural  powers  in  the  air." 

At  times  the  lofty  whirligigs  become  what  the 

352  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

desert  men  call  sand  augers.  Slender  in  form,  the 
sand  auger  is  a  column  of  dust  rising  thousands 
of  feet  into  the  air  with  a  faint  cloud  of  dust  at 
the  top  and  a  slight  spread  at  the  base.  Wherever 
it  touches  as  it  travels  across  the  land  there  is  a 
sudden  stirring,  a  commotion  of  whatever  is  loose 
and  easily  moved,  and  while  it  is  being  watched 
the  sand  auger  moves  on  across  country  and  per- 
haps vanishes  completely  in  a  second  or  two. 

During  such  storms  the  dangers  of  being 
abroad  increase.  The  scorching  blast  takes  the 
lives  of  men  even  though  they  have  full  canteens. 

Sidney  H.  Ball,  of  the  Geological  Survey,  re- 
marks that  the  Piute  name  for  Death  Valley  is 
**Tomesha,"  meaning  ''ground  afire."  Those 
Piutes  have  sometimes  graphic  descriptive 

Fog  is  one  of  the  unexpected  winter  phenomena 
of  the  valley.  One  writing  of  it  tells  of  being  on 
the  mountain  when  the  valley  was  fog-filled  from 
floor  to  rim-top.  Moving  white  clouds  rolled 
about,  raised,  lowered,  divided,  into  vast  chasms 
and  reunited,  at  times  disclosing  narrow  sections 
of  mountain  or  valley,  at  times  resembling  a  vast 


It  might  be  supposed  that  such  forbidding 
natural  conditions  as  exist  in  Death  Valley  would 
preclude  possibility  of  much  variety  of  animal  or 
vegetable  life.  It  is  therefore  surprising  to  learn 
that  at  least  136  different  varieties  of  plant  life 
have  been  listed.    Eighty-eight  of  these  are  arid 


flora ;  the  rest  are  classed  as  marsh  plants.  The 
latter  includes  two  kinds  of  trees,  six  shrubs, 
eight  annuals  and  thirty-two  perennials.  These 
are  found  where  there  is  a  fairly  abundant  water 
supply.  It  is  of  course  to  be  understood  that  in 
the  saline  beds  there  is  no  plant  life  of  any  kind. 

The  standby  tree  of  the  desert  is  the  mesquite. 
It  flourishes  where  water  is  abundant,  and  may 
also  be  found  where  water  is  many  feet  below  the 
surface.  It  sometimes  attains  a  trunk  thickness 
of  eight  inches  or  more,  though  its  usual  appear- 
ance in  Death  Valley  is  that  of  a  great  bush.  It 
bears  a  bean-filled  pod,  on  which  animals  will 
'browse  and  which  are  not  without  value  as  sus- 
tenace  for  human  beings.  It  is  thorny  and  spread- 
ing, and  like  many  other  trees  when  neglected 
usually  grows  a  closely  set  mass  of  stems.  About 
such  groups  the  sandstorms  pile  up  dunes,  some- 
times completely  covering  and  smothering  the 
tree.  The  roots  spread  nearly  as  much  as  the 
tops,  and  make  better  fuel.  When  a  desert  resi- 
dent wants  wood,  he  may  get  it  with  a  shovel,  by 
digging  instead  of  chopping.  It  is  said  that  as 
much  as  five  or  six  cords  of  wood  have  been  dug 
out  of  a  single  mesquite  mound. 

The  yucca,  familiar  on  western  deserts,  seldom 
appears  in  Death  Valley  though  found  in  the  arid 
country  in  every  direction  from  there. 

Arrow^^eed,  one  of  the  reliances  of  the  Indians, 
grows  in  wet  places,  to  a  height  of  six  feet  or 
more.  Greasewood,  creosote  and  other  desert 
bushes  are  found. 

A  little  round  gourd  is  found  in  some  of  the 

354  THE    STOKY    OF    INYO 

canyons.  ' '  Desert  apple  "  it  is  called,  but  its  thin 
meat  contains  little  hint  of  the  fruit  for  which 
it  was  named. 

The  plants  listed  as  time  arid  flora,  growing 
away  from  any  water  except  the  scant  and  in- 
frequent rains,  include  fifty  annuals,  twenty 
shrubs,  eighteen  perennials.  The  latter  include 
three  kinds  of  grass,  retaining  some  vitality  the 
year  round.  A  very  few  of  these  species  are  not 
found  anywhere  except  in  Death  Valley.  All  are 
stunted  and  of  a  color  in  keeping  with  the  harsh 
surroundings,  during  nearly  all  of  the  year.  There 
is  a  short  period  in  the  early  part  of  the  year 
when  parts  of  the  surface  between  the  hills  and 
the  marshes  are  golden  with  flowers,  which  soon 
succumb  to  the  increasing  heat.  Many  colors  are 
seen  there  and  on  the  slopes  and  hillsides,  living 
their  brief  span  before  the  sun  withers  away  all 
evidence  of  their  having  been. 

The  marshes  are  not  alone  in  being  without 
vegetation.  There  are  occasional  stretches  of  sand 
as  bare  as  a  floor.  In  still  other  places  the  sur- 
face is  covered  with  small  flat  rocks,  whose  dark 
colors  are  believed  to  be  the  result  of  intense  heat 
and  light  during  a  long  period.  The  chance  for 
plant  life  there  is  much  the  same  as  it  would  be 
on  a  sheet  of  iron. 

The  animal  kingdom  is  represented  by  no  less 
than  150  forms,  varieties  and  species — this  with- 
out counting  the  jackasses  which  roam  the  hills 
by  hundreds.  They  are  the  progeny  of  escaped 
or  abandoned  animals. 

Mountain  sheep  are  the  largest  game  in  the 


'bordering  mountains,  which  are  among  the  chief 
habitats  of  those  now  rare  animals.  E'or  years 
they  were  one  of  the  reliances  of  the  Indians,  and 
annual  slaughters  were  the  rule.  Thirty  are  said 
to  have  been  killed  near  Furnace  Creek  in  one 
year,  as  the  culmination  of  an  extensive  Indian 
campaign.  They  travel  well  worn  trails,  across 
which  the  Indians  build  low  stone  walls  as 
blinds.  The  sheep  do  not  look  up  while  eating, 
but  when  alarmed  they  run  to  the  highest  points, 
a  trait  which  Lo  turns  to  his  advantage.  The  sheep 
campaign  of  1891,  mentioned  above,  was  preceded 
by  such  preparations  in  the  way  of  blind-building 
that  the  few  whites  thereabouts  concluded  that 
the  walls  were  for  the  purpose  of  guarding  min- 
eral deposits  of  great  value.  It  developed  that 
feed  and  not  fighting  was  the  purpose. 

Waterfowl,  migrating  to  and  from  far-off 
haunts,  frequently  tarry  briefly  at  the  little  pools. 
Geese,  swan  and  ducks  are  among  the  visitors. 
Their  rests  in  the  crystallizing  vats  at  the  old 
borax  works  sometimes  brought  them  to  grief, 
for  on  cold  nights  they  became  so  weighted  down 
with  crystals  that  they  could  not  fly. 

"Bellerin"  Teck's  planting  of  quail  at  Furnace 
Creek  throve,  and  those  beautiful  birds  became 
acclimated  to  the  conditions  of  the  little  oasis,  and 
withstand  the  fearful  summers. 

Bats  abound  in  some  sections,  and  one  of  the 
observations  of  Dr.  S.  G.  George,  heretofore 
quoted,  comments  on  the  quantities  of  bat  guano 
accumulated  in  such  places.  Badgers,  gophers, 
skunks,  foxes,  coyotes,  snakes,  bugs  of  different 

356  THE    STORY    OF    INYO 

kinds,  flies  and  gnats  are  among  the  things  found. 
A  special  variety  of  mouse  exists  there.  The  trade 
rat  is  found  in  Death  Valley  as  well  as  elsewhere 
in  the  West.  This  little  animal  has  a  certain 
standard  of  honesty ;  he  will  carry  off  articles  that 
he  can  handle,  but  will  invariably  replace  them 
with  something  else.  A  camper  left  a  box  of 
dried  fniit  open  during  his  absence;  when  next 
examined,  the  fruit  was  gone,  and  in  its  place 
was  an  assortment  of  chips.  Another  found  that 
his  collection  of  matches  had  been  replaced  by 
pebbles.  Once  a  box  of  cartridges  was  emptied 
by  rats,  and  something  else  substituted;  the 
cartridges  had  been  carried  into  a  temporarily 
unused  stove,  where  they  would  have  provided  a 
surprise  for  the  owner  but  for  his  accidental  dis- 
covery of  them.  It  seems  that  frequently,  as  in 
this  case,  Mr.  Rat  had  no  particular  use  for  the 
goods ;  he  merely  wanted  to  keep  busy.  There  is 
a  kangaroo  rat,  but  whether  identical  with  the 
trade  rat  is  something  no  desert  man  has  been  able 
to  tell  us.  The  kangaroo  rat  has  a  body  four  to 
six  inches  long,  and  with  a  stout  tail  serving  the 
same  purpose  as  that  of  the  Australian  mammal 
for  which  the  little  beast  is  named.  The  animals 
show  little  fear  of  man,  sometimes  eating  from 
the  hand  if  given  the  opportunity. 

Tarantulas  and  rattlesnakes  are  plentiful 
enough,  and  may  make  themselves  disagreeably 
familiar  around  camp,  getting  into  bedding  or 
other  places  where  they  are  not  desired.  The 
chief  desert  rattlesnake,  and  the  most  vicious,  is 
the  sidewinder,  a  reptile  from  twelve  to  eighteen 


inches  long.  A  former  freight  driver  tells  of 
seeing  them  in  balls  ten  to  twelve  inches  in 
diameter.  It  takes  several  snakes  of  whiplash 
size  to  make  a  mass  of  that  size.  In  traveling  the 
sidewinder  goes  with  the  snake  motion,  but  with 
half  their  length  in  the  air  and  weaving  from  side 
to  side. 

A  little  desert  terrapin  is  also  found.  Com- 
mon lizards  reach  comparatively  huge  proportions 
in  those  surroundings.  Specimens  fifteen  or  six- 
teen inches  long  are  reported.  The  most  unique 
form  of  the  family  is  the  chuckwallah — chawalla 
in  Indian.  It  is  a  lizard,  heavy-bodied,  fat  and 
stumpy  as  to  tail,  and  weighing  up  to  three 
pounds  or  more.  They  are  said  to  be  good  eat- 
ing— the  writer  takes  this  statement  on  faith. 
Casual  visitors  will  no  doubt  prefer  bacon;  still 
many  desert  people  learn  to  like  chuckwallah 
meat.  The  Indians  are  less  squeamish  about  de- 
tails, and  roast  the  reptiles  just  as  caught, 
feathers  and  all. 

The  adjacent  mountains  contain  many  song 
birds,  and  great  numbers  of  mocking  birds.  A 
Death  Valleyan  relates  that  one  year  the  water 
holes  in  a  certain  part  of  that  country  dried  up. 
One  morning  a  miner  found  a  dozen  or  more 
young  mocking  birds  helping  themselves  from  his 
water  supply.  He  filled  a  tin  with  water  and  gave 
it  to  them.  Every  morning  thereafter  for  weeks 
they  came,  perched  upon  the  bed  or  table,  and 
coaxed  for  water,  showing  not  the  least  fear.  On 
another  occasion  a  returning  miner  found  a  moun- 
tain swift  in  his  bean  pot,  making  a  meal.     He 

358  THE    STOBY    OF    INYO 

tossed  a  stone  in  its  direction ;  it  jumped  out  and 
to  one  side,  looked  fearlessly  at  the  man,  and 
then  back  into  the  pot.  It  was  allowed  to  finish  its 



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